The monitoring of excess mortality provides us with a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of COVID-19 beyond the number of COVID-19 deaths reported by countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) is tracking global excess mortality as the pandemic evolves over time to reveal a picture of its full impact and burden on countries, health systems and individuals.Excess mortality associated with COVID-19 is used to quantify the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic. 'Excess mortality' is defined as the difference between the total number of deaths that have occurred and the number of deaths that would have been expected in the absence of the pandemic i.e. a no-COVID-19 scenario.
Understanding the excess mortality:
Reported COVID-19 deaths
Estimated excess mortality
The methodology for generating the estimates adopts a statistical method called a Poisson regression model and has been developed in collaboration with the (UN DESA) and an appointed Technical Advisory Group for COVID-19 Mortality Assessment.
Our estimates have a range of uncertainty per country and that level of uncertainty is directly related to a country's reporting capacity and variable data quality. As we chart the range between the upper and lower bounds of uncertainty for WHO regions, we are able to observe the relative availability of data for each region and how data gaps disproportionately impact some parts of the world more than others. If the uncertainty bounds are larger, this indicates that there is less available data and therefore, a corresponding greater degree of uncertainty. These ranges in uncertainty serve to highlight the ongoing need and work of WHO, as we partner with countries to strengthen national Health Information Systems, Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems and reporting of causes of death, and integrated surveillance systems to help improve data availability and close 'data gaps'.
Excess mortality estimates and model uncertainty by WHO Region
Excess mortality estimates, published May 2022, for global, regional and national levels can be downloaded from the tmtplay net:data set page, including age and sex dimensions for the years 2020 and 2021.In the following months, WHO will continue the official country consultation process with Member States, compiling further data sources and working with UN DESA and the WHO-UN DESA Technical Advisory Group.