This article, from Nature, a leading science journal, analyzes the Covid-19 pandemic’s true death toll from several perspectives.
**by David Adam, Nature, 18 January 2022**
**The pandemic’s true death toll: millions more than official counts**
**Countries have reported some five million COVID-19 deaths in two years, but global excess deaths are estimated at double or even quadruple that figure.**
**On 1 November, the global death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic passed 5 million, official data suggested. It has now reached 5.5 million. But that figure is a significant underestimate. Records of excess mortality — a metric that involves comparing all deaths recorded with those expected to occur — show many more people than this have died in the pandemic.**
**Working out how many more is a complex research challenge. It is not as simple as just counting up each country’s excess mortality figures. Some official data in this regard are flawed, scientists have found. And more than 100 countries do not collect reliable statistics on expected or actual deaths at all, or do not release them in a timely manner....**
**Excess deaths include mortality that is not related to COVID-19, such as other infectious diseases, as well as indirectly related deaths, such as a person with cancer who died because their screening was cancelled owing to the pandemic’s impact on health-care systems.**
COVID-19 Flu 2009 (H1N1) Flu 1968 (H3N2) Flu 1957–59 (H2N2) Flu 1918–20 (H1N1) Per-capita excess mortality rate (estimate) 0.15–0.28% 0.005% 0.03% 0.04% 1% Global excess deaths (estimate) adjusted to 2020 population, millions 12–22 0.4 2.2 3.1 75 Mean age at death (years; United States and Europe only) 73–79 37 62 65 27
Various different models give different results. But it’s clear that wealthier countries have relatively accurate official counts, with a narrow confidence limit. Lower middle and low income countries have very inaccurate (way too low) official death counts. The much higher model estimates have wide confidence limits (uncertainty). Very low reported deaths from low-income countries can lead to a false impression that they don’t need vaccines.
In addition to models, there’s hard data like satellite photos of cemeteries and interviews of a population sampling.
The true count of Covid-19 excess mortality will probably never be known. What is clear is that it is a very dangerous illness, especially for the old. And it’s not over yet, despite plenty of wishful thinking.