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Britain has LOWER Covid excess death rate than Spain, Germany and Italy – despite doom-mongers insisting UK fared worst in Europe

  • UK ranks roughly in the middle of an EU table of excess death rates, coming 15th out of the 27 member states
  • There were widely-publicised claims by zealous scientists and MPs that UK had worst toll in Europe last year
  • But latest estimates by WHO look at all excess deaths, not just those confirmed by testing – a more fair scale

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Britain’s pandemic death rate is lower than most major European nations, according to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UK ranks roughly in the middle of an EU table of excess death rates, coming 15th out of the bloc’s 27 member states, behind Spain, Germany and Italy

There were widely-publicised claims by zealous scientists and MPs — including Sir Keir Starmer — last year that Britain had endured one of the biggest death tolls on the continent. The claim was used by critics as justification for tougher restrictions. 

But countries were previously judged by Covid death rates alone, which skewed Britain’s tally because it was testing more than anywhere else.

Excess deaths include fatalities from all causes and it is considered the most consistent way to measure pandemic death tolls because it accounts for a lack of swabbing and undiagnosed cases.

Out of the 194 countries that the WHO looked at, the UK ranked 54th with a death rate of 109 per 100,000 people, slightly above the global average of 90.

Spain (111), Germany (116), and Italy (133) all ranked higher, despite remaining in lockdowns for much longer than the UK. The US had the 40th highest excess death rate (140 per 100,000).

In the most comprehensive look into the pandemic's fatality count yet, the WHO estimated that almost 15million deaths were logged from the start of 2020 to the end of 2021. Peru has logged the most excess deaths in relation to its population, with an extra 437 fatalities for every 100,000 people than expected. The US had the 40th highest excess death rate (140 per 100,000), while the UK came 56th (109 per 100,000)

In the most comprehensive look into the pandemic’s fatality count yet, the WHO estimated that almost 15million deaths were logged from the start of 2020 to the end of 2021. Peru has logged the most excess deaths in relation to its population, with an extra 437 fatalities for every 100,000 people than expected. The US had the 40th highest excess death rate (140 per 100,000), while the UK came 56th (109 per 100,000)

HOW DOES UK’S DEATH RATE COMPARE TO EU?

Excess deaths associated with the Covid pandemic from all-causes per 100,000

  1. Bulgaria 415
  2. Lithuania 319
  3. Romania 279
  4. Slovakia 223
  5. Croatia 210
  6. Poland 208
  7. Latvia 204
  8. Hungary 189
  9. Czechia 173
  10. Slovenia 134
  11. Italy 133
  12. Estonia 127
  13. Germany 116
  14. Spain 111
  15. UK 109
  16. Portugal 100
  17. Greece 93
  18. Netherlands 85
  19. Belgium 77
  20. Austria 66
  21. France 63
  22. Sweden 56
  23. Malta 54
  24. Cyprus 42
  25. Denmark 32
  26. Ireland 29
  27. Finland 26
  28. Luxembourg 6

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In the most comprehensive look into the pandemic’s fatality count yet, the WHO estimated that almost 15million deaths were logged from the start of 2020 to the end of 2021.

The UN agency’s tally, which misses off the entirety of 2022, includes people who directly died from Covid or the virus’s impact on overwhelmed health systems.

For comparison, the current official virus death toll is 6.2million, with a third of those logged in the US, Brazil and India.

The WHO said 20 countries, including the UK and the US, accounted for more than 80 per cent of the estimated ‘excess deaths’ over the first two years of the pandemic.

Peru has logged the most excess deaths in relation to its population, with an extra 437 fatalities for every 100,000 people than expected. 

WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the ‘sobering’ figures should prompt nations to invest in more resilient health systems to quell future crises

WHO scientists estimated the global Covid death toll between January 2020 and January 2022 by calculating the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number of deaths that were expected, based on data from previous years. 

They estimated there were 14.9million deaths that could be attributed to Covid, but the figure could be as high as 16.6 million.

And more than 80 per cent of Covid deaths were logged in just 20 countries, including the UK and US, as well as Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Germany and India.

The vast majority of the fatalities (84 per cent) occurred in South-East Asia (5.9million), Europe (3.3million) and the Americas (3.23million), followed by Africa (1.3million), Eastern-Mediterranean (1.1million) and the Western Pacific (0.1million). 

Peru had the highest excess death rate per 100,000 people (437), followed by Bulgaria (415), Bolivia (375), North Macedonia (369) and Russia (367).

The US had came 40th out of the 194 countries the WHO looked at, with 140 excess deaths per 100,000 people, while the UK came 56th (109 per 100,000). 

Its analysis also confirms that more men were struck down by Covid than women, with 57 per cent of virus deaths among men.

The figures include those who died from Covid, as well as those who died due to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as deaths among people with cancer who were unable to seek treatment because hospitals were full of virus patients.

The WHO there could be even more Covid deaths because some fatalities were averted during the pandemic, such as fewer deaths in road accidents or in work during lockdowns. 

Experts have long warned the true virus death toll will be many times higher than the reported figures due to limited testing and difficulties attributing the cause of death to the virus, as many fatalities will involve other underlying conditions.

And it is difficult to compare figures between countries because some nations only count deaths that occurred in hospitals.

Only 6.2million official Covid deaths have been confirmed worldwide, according to Oxford University-based platform Our World in Data.

This data shows the US has the highest death toll, while the UK has the seventh-highest.

Dr Albert Ko, an infectious diseases expert at the Yale School of Public Health, said the WHO analysis ‘may seem like just a bean-counting exercise’.

‘But having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,’ he said.

The WHO graphs show the difference between reported deaths and excess mortality per region. The shaded grey areas show the number of deaths reported to the WHO by countries, while the red lines indicated the estimated excess death rate (the additional people who have died more than the expected number of deaths). Where the red line dips below zero, it indicates that less people died than expected due to pandemic-related changes in behaviour and society. The red numbers in the top right corner of each graph show the total excess mortality from January 1 2020 to December 31 2021

The WHO graphs show the difference between reported deaths and excess mortality per region. The shaded grey areas show the number of deaths reported to the WHO by countries, while the red lines indicated the estimated excess death rate (the additional people who have died more than the expected number of deaths). Where the red line dips below zero, it indicates that less people died than expected due to pandemic-related changes in behaviour and society. The red numbers in the top right corner of each graph show the total excess mortality from January 1 2020 to December 31 2021

The WHO charts show the difference in reported deaths (shaded grey areas) and excess morality (red lines) when countries are split into World Bank income groups. The red numbers in the top right corner of each graph show the total excess mortality from January 1 2020 to December 31 2021

The WHO charts show the difference in reported deaths (shaded grey areas) and excess morality (red lines) when countries are split into World Bank income groups. The red numbers in the top right corner of each graph show the total excess mortality from January 1 2020 to December 31 2021

The WHO findings come after US scientists estimated there were more than 18million Covid deaths from January 2020 to December 2021.

Separate researchers by a team of Canadian researchers estimated there were more than 3million uncounted Covid deaths in India alone.

WHERE HAVE THE MOST CONFIRMED COVID DEATHS BEEN LOGGED? 

HIGHEST DEATH TOLL

US: 996,704

Brazil: 663,994

India: 523,975

Russia: 368,840

Mexico: 324,334

Peru: 212,891

UK: 175,717

Italy: 164,041

Indonesia: 156,321

France: 146,445

HIGHEST DEATH TOLL RELATIVE TO POPULATION (per million people)

Peru: 6,381.74

Bulgaria: 5,358.1

Bosnia and Herzegovina: 4,831.68

Hungary: 4,802.29

North Macedonia: 4,457.28

Montenegro: 4,324.49

Georgia: 4,224.11

Croatia: 3,884.7

Czechia: 3,747.85

Slovakia: 3,659.76

Source: Our World in Data 

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Some countries, including India, have disputed WHO’s methodology for calculating Covid deaths, resisting the idea that there were many more deaths than officially counted. 

Earlier this week, the Indian Government revealed the country logged 474,806 more deaths in 2020 compared to the previous year, but did not say how many were due to the pandemic. 

India did not release any death estimates for 2021, when the highly infectious delta variant swept through the country, killing many thousands.

Dr Ko said the WHO’s figures may explain some ongoing mysteries about the pandemic, including why Africa appears to have been one of the countries least affected by the virus, despite its low vaccination rates. 

‘Were the mortality rates so low because we couldn’t count the deaths or was there some other factor to explain that?’ he said.

Dr Ko noted that high death rates in the UK and US proved resources alone were insufficient to contain a global outbreak.

Dr Bharat Pankhania, a public health expert at the University of Exeter, said it may be impossible to calculate the true Covid death toll, especially for poor countries

He said: ‘When you have a massive outbreak where people are dying in the streets because of a lack of oxygen, bodies were abandoned or people had to be cremated quickly because of cultural beliefs, we end up never knowing just how many people died.’

Dr Pankhania noted the currently estimated Covid death toll is still a fraction of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic – when experts estimate up to 100million people died.

But he said it is ‘shameful’ that so many people died due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite significant advancements in modern medicine.

Dr Pankhania warned the cost of Covid could be far more damaging in the long term, given the increasing burden of long Covid.

He said: ‘With the Spanish flu, there was the flu and then there were some (lung) illnesses people suffered, but that was it. ‘here was not an enduring immunological condition that we’re seeing right now with Covid.

‘We do not know the extent to which people with long Covid will have their lives cut short and if they will have repeated infections that will cause them even more problems.’

Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of scientific charity the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘There can be no hiding from the fact this devastating death toll was not inevitable; or that there have been too many times in the past two years when world leaders have failed to act at the level needed to save lives.’

He noted that a third of the world’s population is still unvaccinated and ‘more must be done’ to protect people from Covid and future pandemics.

‘Climate change, shifting patterns of animal and human interaction, urbanisation and increasing travel and trade are creating more opportunities for new and dangerous infectious disease risks to emerge, amplify and then spread,’ Dr Farrar said.

He called on world leaders to ‘learn from this crisis and act immediately to end this pandemic, and make sure they do everything they can to prevent this ever happening again’. 

Dr Farrar said global surveillance networks must be built and sustained to detect outbreaks before they escalate, while national and global health professionals must be supported to respond quickly at the start of an outbreak.

And vaccine, testing and treatment capacity must be equally distributed worldwide, he added. 

EXCESS DEATHS IN 2020 AND 2021 DUE TO THE PANDEMIC PER 100,000 IN EACH COUNTRY 
Country Excess deaths associated with the Covid pandemic from all-causes per 100,000
Afghanistan 57
Albania 221
Algeria 79
Andorra 242
Angola 34
Antigua and Barbuda -15
Argentina 99
Armenia 332
Australia -28
Austria 66
Azerbaijan 280
Bahamas 127
Bahrain 19
Bangladesh 43
Barbados -62
Belarus 259
Belgium 77
Belize 87
Benin 48
Bhutan -26
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 375
Bosnia and Herzegovina 240
Botswana 156
Brazil 160
Brunei Darussalam -13
Bulgaria 415
Burkina Faso 52
Burundi 39
Cabo Verde 83
Cambodia 37
Cameroon 66
Canada 29
Central African Republic 64
Chad 58
Chile 101
China -2
Colombia 161
Comoros 41
Congo 41
Cook Islands -102
Costa Rica 94
Côte d’Ivoire 48
Croatia 210
Cuba 80
Cyprus 42
Czechia 173
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea -14
Democratic Republic of the Congo 65
Denmark 32
Djibouti 89
Dominica 10
Dominican Republic 54
Ecuador 228
Egypt 122
El Salvador 131
Equatorial Guinea 60
Eritrea 34
Estonia 127
Eswatini 164
Ethiopia 44
Fiji -6
Finland 26
France 63
Gabon 36
Gambia 59
Georgia 307
Germany 116
Ghana 33
Greece 93
Grenada -118
Guatemala 137
Guinea 47
Guinea-Bissau 71
Guyana 178
Haiti 42
Honduras 113
Hungary 189
Iceland -2
India 171
Indonesia 187
Iran (Islamic Republic of) 137
Iraq 82
Ireland 29
Israel 35
Italy 133
Jamaica 61
Japan -8
Jordan 58
Kazakhstan 202
Kenya 11
Kiribati -19
Kuwait 49
Kyrgyzstan 94
Lao People’s Democratic Republic 12
Latvia 204
Lebanon 136
Lesotho 93
Liberia 39
Libya 57
Lithuania 319
Luxembourg 6
Madagascar 46
Malawi 44
Malaysia 12
Maldives 23
Mali 66
Malta 54
Marshall Islands -67
Mauritania 74
Mauritius 37
Mexico 242
Micronesia (Federated States of) -48
Monaco 81
Mongolia 0
Montenegro 311
Morocco 47
Mozambique 67
Myanmar 40
Namibia 151
Nauru -7
Nepal 55
Netherlands 85
New Zealand -28
Nicaragua 91
Niger 70
Nigeria 45
Niue -154
North Macedonia 369
Norway -1
Oman 111
Pakistan 52
Palau -111
Panama 88
Papua New Guinea 4
Paraguay 138
Peru 437
Philippines 84
Poland 208
Portugal 100
Qatar 26
Republic of Korea 6
Republic of Moldova 225
Romania 279
Russian Federation 367
Rwanda 21
Saint Kitts and Nevis -194
Saint Lucia 101
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 222
Samoa -22
San Marino 251
Sao Tome and Principe 43
Saudi Arabia 25
Senegal 49
Serbia 319
Seychelles 4
Sierra Leone 49
Singapore 13
Slovakia 223
Slovenia 134
Solomon Islands -4
Somalia 110
South Africa 200
South Sudan 41
Spain 111
Sri Lanka -21
Sudan 43
Suriname 62
Sweden 56
Switzerland 47
Syrian Arab Republic 20
Tajikistan 67
Thailand 11
The United Kingdom 109
Timor-Leste 26
Togo -42
Tonga -17
Trinidad and Tobago 72
Tunisia 100
Turkey 156
Turkmenistan 5
Tuvalu -46
Uganda 22
Ukraine 227
United Arab Emirates 12
United Republic of Tanzania 33
United States of America 140
Uruguay 45
Uzbekistan 67
Vanuatu -12
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 39
Viet Nam -3
Yemen 56
Zambia 63
Zimbabwe 62

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Source: Daily Mail

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