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The true COVID death toll: Which country saw the highest excess deaths during the pandemic

The true COVID death toll: Which country saw the highest excess deaths during the pandemic?

Excess mortality rates are historically deemed to be better gauges of pandemic death tolls.

Nearly 4.3 million people worldwide have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

That’s according to Johns Hopkins University, the oracle of coronavirus statistics whose resource centre has meticulously collated data from countries around the world in order to track COVID-19’s ongoing impact.

Even as vaccination programmes make steady progress, the ever-shifting total continues on its upward trajectory with a rising number of new cases, hospitalisations, and virus-related deaths.

But the American university’s figure is far from conclusive as data from different countries have been known to be heavily affected by factors such as testing capacity and disparate definitions from country to country of what constitutes a «COVID-19 death».

As such, the official death toll is believed to be drastically underreported. The Economist reported in May that there were an estimated 7-13 million excess deaths globally during the pandemic, some two to four times higher than the official COVID-19 mortality figure at the time.

A new study published this week in eLife Journal, however, believes it offers the most compelling evidence yet as to the true mortality figures in each country.

It could also help improve our understanding of future pandemics, according to its authors Ariel Karlinsky, a graduate student at Israel’s Hebrew University and Dmitri Kobak, from Tübingen University in Germany.

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