Analysis: Global COVID-19 death toll is more than double official estimate — 5/7/21

Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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A new analysis estimates that COVID-19 has killed 6.9 million people worldwide, more than twice the reported toll of 3.2 million. That includes about 905,000 Americans —  higher than the official estimate of 574,000, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation analysis

The analysis compared week-by-week excess death rates during the pandemic to expectations from seasonal trends in more typical years. The researchers accounted for a variety of factors that could shape the death rate during the pandemic.

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COVID-19 cases and deaths by county and census tract, municipality, school district, and zip code Credit: Screenshot from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services

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“We’re probably not yet at the global toll of Spanish flu and certainly not at the death rate from Spanish flu. But given what’s unfolding in India right now, given our expectation of continued deaths, COVID is going to rival Spanish flu at the global level in terms of the count, likely, before we see the end of this epidemic.”

Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, as quoted by STAT

Data to note

Click on the image above to see Wisconsin DHS COVID-19 vaccine data, which is updated daily.

Here’s a look at the Department of Health Services’ vaccine dashboard, which showed Friday that 44.1% of Wisconsinites have received at least once vaccine dose, including 81.4% of those ages 65 and older. Meanwhile, 36.4% of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated, including 76.3% of those older than 65. Racial disparities persist in distributing vaccines. The shares of Black, Hispanic and Native American residents to receive a dose remain below that of white residents. 

Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks indoors and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed — particularly as more contagious virus variants spread. On Friday, the state DHS reported a seven-day average of 588 new daily infections. The state also reported seven new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the full toll to 6,884. 

WisContext offers this visualization:

Find a vaccine site near you

DHS and the federal government have partnered with Vaccine Finder to help Wisconsinites find vaccinations. Vaccinations are often by appointment, but providers are increasingly offering walk-in options. In addition, people seeking COVID-19 shots can text their ZIP code to 438829 to find nearby vaccine providers.  

COVID-19 fact-checking

Not sure if something you heard about COVID-19 is true? offers this page full of explainers — and debunking of common distortions — about the disease to help you sort out fact from fiction. 

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Madison Public Library to reopen Madison-area libraries May 24 Madison365 

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Analysis: Global COVID-19 death toll is more than double official estimate — 5/7/21 is a post from, a non-profit investigative news site covering Wisconsin since 2009. Please consider making a contribution to support our journalism.

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