REUTERS – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly 6.9 million deaths across the world, more than double the number officially recorded, a new analysis from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated.
Deaths go unreported as most countries only record those that occur in hospitals or of patients with a confirmed infection, the report showed.
The IHME is an independent health research organization that provides comparable measurement of the world’s health problems and has been cited in the past by the White House and its reports are watched closely by public health officials.
The reported COVID-19 mortality is strongly related to the levels of testing in a country, the IHME said.
“If you don’t test very much, you’re most likely to miss COVID deaths,” Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said in a briefing call with journalists… Original press release below, or click here to read more.
SEATTLE, May 6, 2021
New analysis claims to show true toll of the pandemic
PRNewswire/ — Globally, COVID-19 has caused approximately 6.9 million deaths, more than double what official numbers show, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
IHME found that COVID-19 deaths are significantly underreported in almost every country. The updated analysis shows that the United States has had more COVID-19 deaths to-date than any other country, a total of more than 905,000.
By region, Latin America and the Caribbean and Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia were hardest hit in terms of total deaths. This figure only includes deaths caused directly by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, not deaths caused by the pandemic’s disruption to health care systems and communities.
Dr. Chris Murray, IHME’s director said:
“As terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic appears, this analysis shows that the actual toll is significantly worse.
“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.”
Many deaths from COVID-19 go unreported because countries only report deaths that occur in hospitals or in patients with a confirmed infection. In many places, weak health reporting systems and low access to health care magnify this challenge.
IHME’s analysis found that the largest number of unreported deaths occurred in countries that have had the largest epidemics to-date. However, some countries with relatively smaller epidemics saw a large increase in the death rate when accounting for unreported deaths.
This analysis shows that they may be at greater risk for a wider epidemic than previously thought. Murray said:
“Many countries have devoted exceptional effort to measuring the pandemic’s toll, but our analysis shows how difficult it is to accurately track a new and rapidly spreading infectious disease,”
“We hope that today’s report will encourage governments to identify and address gaps in their COVID-19 mortality reporting, so that they can more accurately direct pandemic resources.”
Moving forward, IHME’s COVID-19 modeling, which forecasts the potential course of the pandemic over the next several months, will be based on these estimates of total COVID-19 deaths. IHME’s modeling is updated weekly and can be accessed at covid19.healthdata.org.
These estimates are based on IHME’s long-standing methodology for measuring the burden of diseases on a global scale. Since 1990, the Global Burden of Disease study has measured the total human cost of diseases.
IHME 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.
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. A detailed write-up on methodology is available on IHME’s website.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME is committed to transparency and makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions on allocating resources to improve population health. SOURCE: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation