World’s true pandemic death toll nearly 15 million, says WHO

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World’s true pandemic death toll nearly 15 million, says WHO

The Covid pandemic has caused the deaths of nearly 15 million people around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

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That is 13% more deaths than normally expected over two years.

The WHO believes many countries undercounted the numbers who died from Covid - only 5.4 million were reported.

In India, there were 4.7 million Covid deaths, it says - 10 times the official figures - and almost a third of Covid deaths globally.

The Indian government has questioned the estimate, saying it has "concerns" about the methodology, but other studies have come to similar conclusions about the scale of deaths in the country.

The measure used by the WHO is called excess deaths - how many more people died than would normally be expected based on mortality in the same area before the pandemic hit.

These calculations also take into account deaths which were not directly because of Covid but instead caused by its knock-on effects, like people being unable to access hospitals for the care they needed. It also accounts for poor record-keeping in some regions, and sparse testing at the start of the crisis.

But the WHO said the majority of the extra 9.5 million deaths seen above the 5.4 million Covid deaths reported were thought to be direct deaths caused by the virus, rather than indirect deaths.

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