COVID-19 Death Toll Could Be Nearly Double The Official Numbers, Report Shows

A new report by the University of Washington estimates the original death toll from the COVID-19 virus and it is alarmingly more than twice the official figure. The researchers made use of excess death toll figures to reach a result that leaves a question that how vague are the state-given figures? And what impacts do false figures bring along in terms of people taking precautions?

To make the larger population understand the severity of the virus, it is recommended to show them the real results. The report tracks 2020 mortality rates from around the world and suspects that the deaths could be far more than the official figure that stands at 3.3 million.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation analysis offers one of the most comprehensive investigations into the total mortality rate from COVID-19 to date. Finding out the real answers, researchers used “measures of excess death in a specific population.” The method takes year-to-year mortality rates of a specific population that usually are consistent, however, in the occurrence of an unfortunate event, a natural disaster, or a viral epidemic, the figures rising from consistent mortality rates are accounted as the mortality impact of the event.

All excess deaths are not accounted as COVID-19 deaths, instead, the methodology that researchers applied adjusts on a number of variables so as to bring forth results that are closest to the real figures.

The research isn’t the first assuming a high death toll, several earlier studies published in 2020 focus on excess death estimates in the U.S, suggesting the real death toll is much higher than the officially reported figures. A report published by CDC in October conceded coronavirus mortality figures, “might underestimate the actual number directly attributable to COVID-19 because deaths from other causes might represent misclassified COVID-19–related deaths.”

“Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated total COVID-19 deaths by comparing anticipated deaths from all causes based on pre-pandemic trends with the actual number of all-cause deaths during the pandemic,” the institute stated in a recent statement. “This ‘excess mortality figure was then adjusted to remove deaths indirectly attributable to the pandemic (for example, due to people with non-COVID conditions avoiding health care facilities) as well as deaths averted by the pandemic (for example, declines in traffic deaths due to lower mobility). The resulting adjusted estimates include only deaths directly due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.”

Many countries were found to have under-reported the death toll from COVID-19 as per IHME’s country by country breakdown estimates the figure of actual mortality is more than twice the numbers that are reported. U.S stands at the top with most deaths from the COVID-19 virus as the study suggests it to be somewhere around 905,000. However, at the time of this reveal, the official reported death toll in the U.S stood at 574,043.

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 22: Chris Duncan, whose 75 year old mother Constance died from COVID on her birthday, photographs a COVID Memorial Project installation of 20,000 American flags on the National Mall as the United States crosses the 200,000 lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic September 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. The flags are displayed on the grounds of the Washington Monument facing the White House. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Egypt, for example, is cited in the report as only officially counting a little over 13,000 COVID-19 deaths but the IHME analysis estimates the real number to be around 170,000. Russia’s real numbers are similarly underestimated, with nearly 600,000 COVID-19 deaths suggested in the new report, compared to official numbers counting little more than 100,000.

“As terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic appears, this analysis shows that the actual toll is significantly worse,” says Chris Murray, director of IHME. “Understanding the true number of COVID-19 deaths not only helps us appreciate the magnitude of this global crisis but also provides valuable information to policymakers developing response and recovery plans.”

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