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24 May, 2024 17:34

Covid killed nearly 13 million in two years – WHO

The disease was the third leading cause of mortality globally in 2020 and second leading in 2021
Covid killed nearly 13 million in two years – WHO

An estimated 13 million people died during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report published on Friday by the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus quickly became the leading cause of death in the Americas, the study noted. 

The disease was the third highest cause of mortality globally in 2020 and moved up to second place in 2021. Covid-19 was among the top five causes of death in all regions of the world except Africa and the Western Pacific. 

According to the WHO, the pandemic “wiped out nearly a decade of progress” in improving life expectancy in just two years. The report highlighted that between 2019 and 2021, global life expectancy dropped by 1.8 years to 71.4, the same level as in 2012. Similarly, global healthy life expectancy dropped in 2021 back to the 2012 level of 61.9 years.

The WHO report said the Americas and Southeast Asia were hit the hardest, with life expectancy in the regions dropping by approximately 3 years and healthy life expectancy by 2.5 years between 2019 and 2021. Meanwhile, the Western Pacific region was “minimally affected” during the first two years of the pandemic, it said.

“We must remember how fragile progress can be,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that “in just two years, the Covid-19 pandemic erased a decade of gains in life expectancy.” 

Covid-19 initially emerged in late 2019 and developed into the largest epidemic in nearly a century. The medical journal Lancet previously suggested that the number of Covid-related deaths may be as high as 18 million.

The WHO report mentioned that noncommunicable diseases such as ischemic heart disease and stroke, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and diabetes, which were the biggest killers before the pandemic, accounted for 78% of non-Covid deaths in 2020-2021.