FRIDAY, March 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of excess mortality has been much greater than indicated by reported deaths due to COVID-19, according to a study published online March 10 in The Lancet.

Haidong Wang, Ph.D., from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, and colleagues collected all-cause mortality reports for 74 countries and territories and 266 subnational locations that had reported weekly or monthly deaths from all causes during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Excess mortality over time was calculated as observed mortality, after excluding data from anomalies, minus expected mortality.

The researchers found that between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021, reported COVID-19 deaths totaled 5.94 million worldwide; however, 18.2 million people were estimated to have died worldwide because of the COVID-19 pandemic during that period. The global all-age rate of excess mortality due to the pandemic was 120.3 deaths per 100,000 population; in 21 countries, the excess mortality rate exceeded 300 deaths per 100,000 population. The regions of South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and Eastern Europe had the largest number of excess deaths due to COVID-19. At the country level, the highest numbers of cumulative excess deaths due to COVID-19 were estimated in India, the United States, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, and Pakistan (4.07 million, 1.13 million, 1.07 million, 798,000, 792,000, 736,000, and 664,000, respectively).

“Understanding the true death toll from the pandemic is vital for effective public health decision making,” Wang said in a statement.

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