A new World Health Organization estimate indicates that about 15 million people died directly or indirectly due to the COVID-19 pandemic — a much higher number than what has been reported by world governments, PBS NewsHour reports.
In its report, the WHO says an estimated 14.9 million more people died between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 than would otherwise have been expected if not for the pandemic. This excess mortality includes both people who died of COVID-19 and people who died because of how the pandemic affected health systems and society. This, PBS NewsHour notes, is three times the number of deaths governments have reported.
According to the WHO, 84 of these deaths occurred in in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas and 81 percent occurred in middle-income nations.
These numbers, the University of Washington's Jonathan Wakefield, who was involved in the modeling work, tells PBS NewsHour, "shows us the true extent of the pandemic."
The monthly estimates could also be correlated with which viral suppression tactics were in place. "And that may help us in the future to try and avoid deaths, both as the COVID pandemic continues and for other pandemics," he tells PBS NewsHour.