The World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted that the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a loss of approximately 337 million years of life due to the premature deaths of millions of people. According to this Geneva-based UN agency, in 2020 and 2021 alone, COVID-19 caused the loss of 336.8 million years of life worldwide. Samira Asma, WHO’s deputy chief of data and analysis, compared this loss to “losing 22 years of life for every additional death.”
These figures are based on data available up to 2022. Since then, the number of deaths from COVID-19 has continued to increase, albeit at a slower rate. Despite this, the WHO recently decided to lift its highest health alert level, warning that the disease has not disappeared after more than three years of the pandemic.
Currently, the official number of deaths attributed to the disease is 6.9 million. However, many countries did not provide reliable data to the WHO, which estimates that the pandemic has actually claimed almost three times as many lives in these three years, i.e., at least 20 million deaths. To arrive at this estimate, WHO relies on the calculation of excess mortality, which is the difference between the actual number of deaths and the estimated number of deaths in normal times.
The 20 million victims mentioned by the WHO include both direct coronavirus deaths and deaths due to the impact of the pandemic on health systems.
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