According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), the corona pandemic cost the lives of around 14.9 million people worldwide in 2020 and 2021. The number includes both those who died from corona infections and people who were probably infected but not tested, as well as people with other diseases or injuries who could not be treated in time due to the overload of the health systems, as the WHO reported in Geneva on Thursday.
According to reports from WHO member countries, the number of deaths among those infected with corona was 5.4 million at the end of 2021. Today it is just over 6.2 million. The WHO estimate is roughly in line with calculations by the US Institute for Health Metrics (IHME), which has long provided daily estimates.
More investment in healthcare
The WHO is calling for more investment in healthcare so that future vital treatments do not have to be postponed in times of crisis such as a pandemic.
According to the WHO, the excess mortality was greatest in Southeast Asia, Europe and North and South America with a total of 84 percent of all cases. Excess mortality here means how many more people died in 2021 and 2022 compared to previous years without a pandemic.
More men than women
The WHO assigns 68 percent of the additional deaths to ten countries: Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the USA. A good 80 percent of the additional deaths happened in middle-income countries. 57 percent of the deceased were men.
The WHO calculation took into account that the pandemic also prevented deaths, such as accidents on the road or at work, because curfews were in place in many places and people worked from home. The WHO has also taken into account country-specific peculiarities.
criticism from India
India had already criticized the planned WHO estimate in advance. The methodology doesn’t work in a country like India with 1.3 billion inhabitants. The Devex website and the New York Times reported that the government in New Delhi did not agree with the WHO’s high death estimate. The authorities gave the figure of 475,000 additional deaths in 2020 a day before the WHO publication. The WHO estimate is almost twice as high. India did not experience by far the worst corona wave until 2021. Pictures of mass funerals went around the world that year.