WHO says the actual death toll from COVID in the world is close to 15 million
The COVID pandemic has caused the deaths of nearly 15 million people around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.
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 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. Alongside India, countries with the highest total excess deaths included Russia, Indonesia, USA, Brazil, Mexico and Peru, the WHO figures suggest.
The numbers for Russia are three-and-a-half times the country’s recorded deaths. The report also looks at the rates of excess deaths relative to each country’s population size. The academics who helped compile the report admit their estimates are more speculative for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, because there is little data on deaths in the region.