It has been revealed that the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic has killed 13.3 to 16.6 million people in 2020 and 2021.

This revelation was made by the WHO on Thursday. This is up to triple the number of deaths attributed directly to the disease, according to the Agence France Presse, AFP.

The World Health Organization’s long-awaited estimate of the total number of deaths caused by the pandemic – including lives lost to its knock-on effects – finally puts a number on the broader impact of the crisis.

“New estimates from the World Health Organisation show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million),” the UN health agency said in a statement.

The figure calculates what is termed as excess mortality due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has upended much of the planet for more than two years.

“These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.

Excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would have been expected in the absence of the pandemic, based on data from earlier years.

Excess mortality includes deaths associated with COVID-19 directly, due to the disease, and indirectly due to the pandemic’s impact on health systems and society.

The WHO declared COVID an international public health emergency on January 30, 2020, after cases of the new coronavirus spread beyond China.

Countries around the world reported 5.42 million COVID-19 deaths to the WHO in 2020 and 2021 – a figure that today stands at 6.24 million, including deaths in 2022. 

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