COVID-19 had killed over 1.8 million people worldwide and infected more than 82 million people as of 31 December 2020. However, preliminary estimates indicate that the global “excess deaths” due to COVID-19 are at least 3,000,000. This is 1.2 million more than the WHO official numbers.
Based on 2020 estimates, the COVID-19 death tolls are now at 3.3 million. This is a substantial undercount.
The term “excess death” refers to deaths that are beyond what is expected in “normal” circumstances. This includes confirmed deaths as well as COVID-19 deaths not properly diagnosed and reported, as well as deaths due to overall crisis conditions. This is a better and more accurate measurement than COVID-19 confirmed deaths.
Some countries report COVID-19-related deaths in hospitals or deaths of COVID-19-positive people. Many countries are unable to accurately report or measure the cause of death because they lack adequate or inadequate health information systems.
Pandemics have likely led to more deaths from other causes, including disruptions in health services delivery and routine immunizations. There has also been a decrease in people seeking treatment and a shortage of funding for non-COVID-19 services. In March 2021, the second WHO “pulse study” of 135 nations revealed persistent disruptions on a large scale. 90% of countries reported one or more interruptions to essential health services.
COVID-19 revealed persistent inequalities based on income, location, age, race, and sex. Despite recent improvements in global health, people around the world continue to face interconnected threats to their well-being and health that are rooted in socio, economic, political, and environmental determinants.
A number of gaps have been revealed in the country’s health information systems due to the pandemic. High-resource environments have had to deal with fragmentation and overstretched capacities. However, weaker systems of health can jeopardize hard-earned health and development achievements made in recent years.
The COVID-19 World Symptoms survey data shows a decrease in preventive behaviors such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, and hand washing as household overload increases. 79% of people who live in an uncrowded household reported that they tried to physically distance themselves from others, compared to 71% for households with moderate overcrowding and 65% for those in overcrowded homes. Similar patterns were seen in handwashing and mask-wearing. This highlights vulnerabilities due to socioeconomic status.
Targeted interventions are often hampered by inequalities or data gaps, regardless of the severity of the pandemic. A recent WHO global assessment of the capacity of health information system capacity showed that only half of countries publish disaggregated data in national health statistics reports. It is crucial to invest in health information systems that are strong for equitable health outcomes and disaggregated data reaching decision-makers.
We can measure progress towards the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (and WHO’s Triple Billillion targets) more accurately if we have stronger and more equitable information systems about health. “We are less than nine years away to 2030,” says Dr. Samira Asoma, Assistant Director-General for the Division of Data, Analytics, and Delivery for Impact, WHO. “We know the gaps and have the solutions. We need to be committed and invest now in order to move forward and achieve our goals.
World Health Statistics 2021 Report provides the most current data and trends on over 50 health-related indicators to support the Sustainable Development Goal (and WHO’s Triple Billillion) targets.
Global life expectancy has increased by 73.3 years from 2000 to 66.8 years, and the healthy life expectancy has risen from 58.3 to 63.7 years. Even before the pandemic, however, progress was slow and uneven in reaching many goals, including reducing premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and new HIV infections.
This post was written by a medical professional at The Wellness Firm. The Wellness Firm services include workplace flu clinics, flu vaccinations, onsite event Covid testing, physical exams for employment, as well as American Heart Association CPR certification classes. Founded by local Firemen, The Wellness Firm has been providing a safer Tampa Bay since 2006.