The United States Covid-19 death toll has been undercounted by more than 300,000 deaths, according to a study conducted by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
“IHME found that COVID-19 deaths are significantly underreported in almost every country,” the institute wrote in a press release. “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.”
While the U.S. has reported roughly 574,000 deaths due to the coronavirus, the study found that the total is actually some 905,000.
The study also concluded that the worldwide Covid-19 death toll is nearly 7 million — more than twice the reported number of 3.24 million.
Covid-19 deaths in India, Mexico, and Russia — countries with the second, third, and fifth highest tolls (the U.S. has the number one spot) — were also vasty undercounted.
Researchers additionally found that the tolls in Japan, Egypt, and several other countries are 10 times higher than the reported numbers.
“As terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic appears, this analysis shows that the actual toll is significantly worse,” said IHME director Dr. Chris Murray. “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.”
The report specifically looks at deaths from March 2020 to May 2021. The final number only accounts for deaths “caused directly by the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” and “not deaths caused by the pandemic’s disruption to health care systems and communities.”
“Our approach to estimating the total COVID-19 death rate is based on measurement of the excess death rate during the pandemic week by week compared to what would have been expected based on past trends and seasonality. However, the excess death rate does not equal the total COVID-19 death rate,” the report states, noting there are multiple drivers of excess deaths.
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