The WHO also estimates that at least 3 million people may have died from Covid-19 in 2020, compared with 1.8 million recorded in official data, the WHO reported in annual statistics released on Friday.
The WHO based its assessment on a statistical model that estimates the excess deaths attributable to Covid-19. The technique involves taking the total number of officially recorded deaths and then subtracting the number of deaths that would have been expected on the basis of previous mortality trends. On that basis, the WHO said it estimated that 1.1 million to 1.3 million people in 53 European countries died from Covid-19 in 2020, roughly double the number recorded in official data. It also calculates that, over the same period, 1.3 million to 1.5 million people died in 35 countries in the Americas, compared with the 9,00,000 deaths officially recorded.
The discrepancy between the WHO’s estimates and official data underscores the limited capacity of many nations to test their populations for the coronavirus and other weaknesses in health data. The WHO will present its statistics to the annual meeting of its policymaking assembly in Geneva next week. NYT