Official coronavirus death toll is likely an ‘underestimate’, WHO says

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The official toll from the coronavirus pandemic is likely lower than the actual total, the World Health Organization said on Monday, as reported deaths around the world approach one million.Covid-19 killed at least 998,867 people worldwide on Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The United States has the highest death toll in the world, with at least 204,825 deaths, according to data from Hopkins. Next come Brazil with 141,741 deaths and India with 95,542, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

But Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergency program, said the reported numbers likely represent an “underestimate” of people who have contracted Covid-19 or who have died from it.

“When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly. But I can assure you that the current figures are probably an underestimation of the true toll of Covid, ”he said during a press conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva, when asked about the death world.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in July found that the death toll in the United States from the coronavirus may be underestimated by 28%. Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers at Yale University compared the number of excess deaths in the United States with the number of weekly deaths in the United States linked to Covid-19.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had identified 5,000 deaths in New York City, once the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, which may have been caused by Covid-19 but which were not counted as part of the official coronavirus. death toll.

The coronavirus is a stealth virus, infectious disease experts say, capable of attacking almost any system in the body, including the heart, kidneys and brain.

A model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, once cited by the White House, now projects more than 371,500 Americans could die from Covid-19 by January 1.

WHO officials said on Monday the world will have to “live with Covid-19 for a while”.

WHO officials have urged world leaders and public health officials to improve diagnostic and health systems that will enable them to respond better in the future. At the press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced an agreement to send 120 million rapid coronavirus tests around the world, especially in low and middle income countries.

The comments came days after the WHO said it is “not impossible” the death toll could double if countries do not work uniformly to suppress the spread of the virus.

“It’s certainly unimaginable, but it’s not impossible, because if we look at losing 1 million people in nine months and just look at the realities of marketing vaccines in the next nine months, that’s a important task for everyone involved ”Ryan said on Friday whether the death toll from coronavirus could reach 2 million people.

– CNBC Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this report.

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