- Global fatalities may be closer to 1.8 million, academic says
- Dearth of accurate data frustrates effort to mitigate pandemic
The world will officially record 1 million deaths from Covid-19 in the next few days, but the real tally might be almost double that.
Actual fatalities from the worst pandemic in a century may be closer to 1.8 million — a toll that could grow to as high as 3 million by the end of the year, according to Alan Lopez, a laureate professor and director of the University of Melbourne’s global burden of disease group. The coronavirus’s rapid spread and ability to transmit in people who show no signs of the disease have enabled it to outrun measures to accurately quantify cases through widespread diagnostic testing.
“One million deaths has meaning by itself, but the question is whether it’s true,” Lopez said in an interview. “It’s fair to say that the 1 million deaths, as shocking as it sounds, is probably an underestimate — a significant underestimate.”
Even in countries with sophisticated health systems, mortality is difficult to accurately gauge. Tens of thousands of probable Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. weren’t captured by official statistics between March and May, a study in July found, frustrating efforts to track and mitigate the pandemic’s progression.