The worldwide death toll from COVID-19 could be twice or thrice the reported figure of 3.4 million and as high as 8 million, the World Health Organization said Friday.
Samira Asma, a senior data scientist at WHO, told reporters at a news conference that looking at past trends for 2020, the actual death toll is probably two to three times higher.
"We know 3.4 million deaths were officially reported until this month," she said in response to a question from Anadolu Agency.
“What we looked at were the deaths that occurred without COVID, and then those that were reported officially, and then calculated the excess deaths, which came up to 3 million only as of the year 2020,” said Asma.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding and WHO is closely monitoring deaths in Latin America and Asia, particularly India and Nepal, she said.
“So I think safely, about 6 to 8 million deaths could be an estimate, and that is on a cautionary note.”
She noted that in a number of countries the system to report causes of death are weak.
“Therefore, WHO is calling on all countries to improve and invest in strong data and health information systems,” said Asma.
WHO data analyst William Msemburi said the health body has been monitoring the progress of the pandemic and working with its member states to track the numbers of cases and deaths attributable to COVID-19.
“Countries have had varying capacity for success with testing. And this has resulted in many of the official COVID-19 statistics being an undercount,” said Msemburi.