Known Global Covid Death Toll Surpasses 4 Million – The New York Times
The world’s known coronavirus death toll passed four million on Thursday, a loss roughly equivalent to the population of Los Angeles, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Those are officially reported figures, which are widely believed to undercount pandemic-related deaths.
“The numbers may not tell the complete story, and yet they’re still really staggering numbers globally,” said Jennifer B. Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Ms. Nuzzo said the number of excess deaths reported around the world suggested that “lower-income countries have been much harder hit than their official numbers would suggest.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, called four million dead a tragic milestone on Wednesday, and said the toll was continuing to mount largely because of dangerous versions of the virus and inequities in the distribution of vaccines.
“Compounded by fast-moving variants and shocking inequity in vaccination, far too many countries in every region of the world are seeing sharp spikes in cases and hospitalizations,” Dr. Tedros said at a news conference.
The official death toll numbers tell only part of the horrifying pandemic story. In many places, people have died without family to comfort them because of rules to prevent the spread of the virus. And many countries were completely overrun.
As of Tuesday, seven of the 10 countries with the highest death rates relative to their populations over the past week were in South America, according to data from Johns Hopkins, and the virus has been a destabilizing force in many countries in the region.
A wave of cases in Peru cost many people their livelihoods, and thousands of impoverished people occupied empty stretches of land south of Lima. In Paraguay, which as of Tuesday had the highest number of Covid-19 deaths per capita of any country during the previous week, social networks often resemble obituary pages.
But the virus is still running rampant in regions with lower rates of vaccination, like parts of Asia, Africa and South America. Some places with relatively high vaccination rates, like England, are also seeing spikes in cases, though fewer of those cases have been leading to hospitalizations and deaths.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who works on coronavirus response for the W.H.O., said that there were “more than two dozen countries that have epidemic curves that are almost vertical.”
“The virus is showing us right now that it’s thriving,” she said.
To date, just under 3.3 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, according to vaccination data from local governments compiled by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. Nearly all have been of vaccines that require more than one dose to be fully effective.