COVID-19 had claimed more than 3 million lives worldwide in 2020

COVID-19 had claimed more than 3 million lives

By the end of 2020, COVID-19 had claimed the lives of more than three million people worldwide, representing 1.2 million more deaths than officially reported earlier, says a newly released report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The revised figures, based on excess mortality estimates produced for 2020, indicate a serious undercount of total deaths directly or indirectly attributable to COVID-19.

WHO's World Health Statistics report 2021 mainly touched on unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines. It said that "fair and equitable access to the vaccines is far from being achieved, and the inequality across income groups is pronounced with only one per cent of doses going to low [income] countries as compared to the 19 per cent administered in lower-middle-income countries, 33 per cent in upper-middle-income countries and 47 per cent in high-income countries as of 1 May 2021".

COVID-19 substantially threatened population health and well-being across the world. Also, universal health coverage faced "the greatest risk of falling behind" with 90 per cent of countries affected by disruptions in essential health services, the report said.

COVID-19 strikes vulnerable populations "disproportionately" with people living in overcrowded settings at high risk, said the report. It also delineates inadequacy relating to data disaggregation (detailed sub-categorisation of data) which contributes to unequal health outcomes.

According to the report, "[High-quality] disaggregated data for monitoring health inequalities and for ensuring equitable health service access and uptake are lacking worldwide…[only] 51 per cent of 133 studied countries include data disaggregation in published national health statistical reports, ranging from 63 per cent in [high-income countries] to only 46-50 per cent for other income groups."

Brian Wahl, an epidemiologist at the Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, US, tells SciDev.Net: "In the last year, we have seen [multiple] ways in which COVID-19 has disproportionately affected vulnerable populations, including essential workers and those with limited access to medical services."

Read Full Article: COVID-19 had claimed more than 3 million lives worldwide in 2020

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