More than 18 million people have probably died due to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, a new report claims. Researchers say the true death toll could be three times higher than what has been officially recorded.
Data from Johns Hopkins University confirmed this week that more than 6 million people have died due to the coronavirus.
But a study in The Lancet medical journal said that the pandemic is estimated to have caused more than three times the number of official deaths between early 2020 and late 2021. “The official statistics on Covid-19 deaths give only a partial picture of the true death toll,” researchers said, recording 18.2 million Covid-19 related deaths.
Some of the 12 million excess deaths were from the virus while others were linked to pre-existing medical conditions that were worsened by Covid-19, they added. The study comes exactly two years after the World Health Organization (WHO) first declared the pandemic.
The WHO had previously estimated that the death toll from the pandemic could be two to three times higher than the official figure, taking into account the excess deaths directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19. The UN agency had stated that new weekly cases of the coronavirus have been steadily declining in nearly all regions.
A number of European countries have lifted all coronavirus restrictions, as more and more governments design protocols to co-exist with the virus. But around the world, some communities are still battling against a number of infections.
On Friday, Germany’s health minister pleaded with citizens not to assume that the coronavirus pandemic is over, warning that it is still in a “critical” situation. Germany had seen Covid-19 cases decline last month, but official figures have now shown the infection rate increasing for nine consecutive days.
Officials point to the spread of an even more contagious version of the omicron variant known as BA.2, which by this week accounted for half of cases in Germany. Other health experts warn of overreaction, pointing out that BA.2 causes relatively mild illness and is not over-burdening the health care system.
Germany has been easing coronavirus restrictions and is due to lift most of them on 20 March. The government has drawn up new rules that would allow state governments to require measures such as mask-wearing, testing in some situations and additional measures in virus although it is unclear to what extent they will be followed or enforced.