The Economist magazine estimated that the actual number of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide could be between 7 and 13 million. In the model they developed, the researchers collected data on 121 indicators from more than 200 countries and regions to calculate the real balance sheet. Official figures represent a little less than half of the actual death toll of Covid-19, according to the study, and official statistics in many countries exclude victims who did not test positive for corona virus before they died. Accordingly, there were five times more deaths in Russia and 14 times more in Africa. In India, where the epidemic hit hard, more than a million lives were lost this year alone.
The US-based magazine The Economist created a model for calculating the actual number of Covid-19 deaths in the world. Experts calculated that by May 2021, between 7.1 and 12.7 million deaths from Covid-19 occurred worldwide. This shows that the actual number of deaths is many times higher than the officially announced 3.4 million deaths.
As the Economist explains, the number of deaths officially reported by country is largely underestimating the actual figures. The report’s authors said this was the result of the lack of testing to confirm the cause of death and the delay in recording the deaths. At the same time, home deaths are not included in official figures in countries where health systems are under extreme pressure, such as India and Brazil.
“Using known data on 121 variables from recorded deaths to demography, geography and mobility, we created a correlation model that allows us to fill the gaps where numbers are missing. However, for the same reasons cited, many countries cannot provide reliable numbers for excessive deaths,” the study authors said.
“The difficulty arises when calculating deaths in unknown places,” says Sondre Ulvund Solstad, senior data reporter for the economist. You don’t just want to give a number and say the truth, because you cannot know the exact number of deaths. Data are not available. So, what we did and put tremendous effort to do was to provide intervals that captured the variations possible. “We tried to collect as much data as possible on all types of indicators so that if at least some data were missing, we would have moderate data that could be filled in.”
However, Solstad stated that the lack of data is most prevalent in low- and middle-income countries. “Tests in these places are less common because they are expensive. In addition, we suspect that governments in some countries do not want to prioritize tests as it will reveal how bad the pandemic is ”.
On the other hand, the corona virus was first detected in 2019 in Wuhan, China’s Hubei province. Subsequently, the epidemic swept the “rich world” and caused massive deaths. As of this year, the center of the pandemic has shifted to India and Latin America with the increase in vaccination in rich countries such as the USA, EU, Canada and Israel.
“For most of the last year, 33 out of 52 weeks, the number of deaths per day has increased. “What we’re seeing now is that global deaths are rising disproportionately in India and Brazil,” he said.
According to the study, India is experiencing more than 6,000 to 31,000 deaths a day, well above the reported 4,000 daily deaths. The figures are also supported by other epidemiological models that place them in the same range. If the Economist’s estimate is correct, more than a million people died in India in 2021 due to Covid-19 alone.
Solstad said, “Unfortunately, India is no exception. Modeling of many countries shows that they were hit much more often than India due to the epidemic. For example, in Peru, 2.5 times more people die per million people than in India, ”he said.
On the other hand, the study estimates that deaths in Asia range between 2.4 and 7.1 million as of May 10, 2021, but the number of official deaths announced on the continent averages around 0.6 million. Russia, for example, has more than five times the officially announced Covid-19 death rate.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, governments reported 0.6 million Covid -19 deaths, while actual deaths were estimated to be between 1.5 and 1.8 million.
In Africa, the gap between real death and what is officially announced is widening. The official figure on the continent is close to 130,000, but according to the Economist’s model, the real figure is 2.1 million, 14 times the officially announced figure.
On the other hand, Solstad said that age should be taken as an important factor, that is, an excess of the elderly population means more deaths than the corona virus.
For example, in Japan, where the median age is 48, the risk of dying from Covid-19 is an estimated 13 times higher than in Uganda, where the average population age is 17.
However, even when age is taken into account, the young population in developing countries faces more severe consequences than their wealthy counterparts simply because of the lack of healthcare resources.