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With few exceptions, the American media persists in citing official world Covid mortality totals as if they are accurate, ignoring the fact that very reputable sources insist the true figures are far higher.


In May, researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation published country-by-country estimates, using a model based on an analysis of excess mortality. They took into account Covid indirect deaths (those who died of other causes due to lack of care) as well as deaths avoided due to Covid (there were far fewer flu deaths, for example). In sum, the IHME analysis shows an extraordinary increase in Covid death figures, with several countries showing dramatic revisions upward. India and Russia, for example, have excess deaths around two and a half times their official Covid totals (as of Oct. 10). World-wide, the IHME estimates total deaths at around 10.8 million, over twice the current official total of 5.25 million. While some epidemiologists have challenged the IHME’s methodology and argue for lower figures, no one seems to dispute that the official figures represent a severe undercount.


Later in May the WHO, as part of its annual World Health Statistics Report, stated that the official totals represent “a significant undercount,” with the true total likely to be “two to three times higher.” Its analysts noted that many countries had unreliable mortality reporting systems and said many people died from Covid before being tested. As with the IHME, their figures included indirect deaths, caused, they said, by a lack of hospital capacity and restrictions on movements, among other factors.


Finally, the esteemed international weekly The Economist has a whole page on its website dedicated to tracking the true figures, again based on excess death totals. They argue (with a claimed 95% probability) that the Covid toll today (Oct. 10) is not 4.8 million but somewhere between 9.9 and 18.6 million, with 16 million as close to the most likely figure. 


What can account for the seeming indifference in the US media to accurate Covid death totals? According to the The Economist, the undercount of American deaths is approximately 25%. That’s a huge number, but it doesn’t compare to the considerably greater discrepancy in foreign countries such as India and Russia. Does the lack of discussion reflect a certain indifference to non-American lives? When you consider the extent to which vaccines have been hoarded by the US (and other economically developed nations), it doesn’t seem unlikely.


Whatever the reason, it’s long past time for the US media to acknowledge the excess death discrepancy and to do so regularly and in detail.

Covid Mortality Totals Severely Undercounted

Mass cremations in New Delhi, India, April, 2021.

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A man mourns his mother in Srinagar, India, April, 2021.

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