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05th May 2022

Almost 15 million people have died due to pandemic, says World Health Organisation

Dave Hanratty

Covid deaths worldwide total

The World Health Organisation has confirmed some incredibly stark mortality figures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just under 15 million people have died worldwide as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, according to new information released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The official figure of approximately 14.9 million – range 13.3 million to 16.6 million – accounts for deaths associated directly or indirectly with the pandemic and was recorded over the 24-month period between 1 January, 2020 and 31 December, 2021. The WHO also notes that the overall figure represents 9.5 million more deaths than have been reported to date.

The WHO describes the overall toll as “excess mortality”, calculating the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be anticipated in the absence of the pandemic, based on data from previous years.

This includes deaths associated with Covid-19 directly – “due to the disease” – or indirectly – “due to the pandemic’s impact on health systems and society”. Deaths linked indirectly to Covid-19 are attributable to other health conditions for which people were unable to access prevention and treatment due to health systems being overwhelmed due to tackling the pandemic.

The WHO report notes that the estimated number of excess deaths can be influenced also by deaths averted during the crisis thanks to lower risk of specific events such as motor-vehicle accidents or occupational hazards.

The majority of the excess deaths (84%) are concentrated in south-east Asia and the Americas. 68% of the excess deaths are concentrated in just 10 countries across the globe. Middle-income countries account for 81% of the 14.9 million figure – 53% in lower-middle-income countries and 28% in upper-middle-income countries.

High-income and low-income countries account for 15% and 4%, respectively.

“These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”

The full WHO report may be accessed here.

Featured Image via Sam Boal /

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