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What is Australia’s contribution to the global COVID death tally?


Matt Woodley


2/11/2021 4:52:56 PM

With just six countries accounting for more than a half of the world’s five million fatalities, Australia’s death rate has been roughly 10 times lower than its proportion of the global population.

Fresh graves at the Yastrebkovskoe cemetery.
An aerial view of fresh graves at the Yastrebkovskoe cemetery outside Moscow, which serves as one of the burial grounds for people who have died of COVID-19. (Image: AAP)

At least five million people have died from COVID since the start of the pandemic, including nearly 400,000 people over the past four weeks, figures from Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 dashboard suggest.
 
More than half of these deaths have occurred in just six countries – the US (747,000), Brazil (608,000), India (458,000), Mexico (288,000), Russia (235,000) and Peru (200,000) – despite them only accounting for slightly more than a quarter of the global population.
 
By contrast, Australia’s contribution of 1756 deaths (as of Tuesday 2 November) accounts for just 0.035% of the total, roughly 10 times lower than its proportion of the global population (0.33%).
 
The total number of deaths means COVID has already killed more people than any other viral outbreak in the past 100 years, with Spanish Flu the most recent pandemic to have taken a greater toll. It also means COVID is now the third-leading cause of global death, behind heart disease and stroke, according to AP.
 
And yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the ‘true’ global death toll could be 2–3 times higher than official figures.
 
Ariel Karlinsky, a member of the WHO’s technical advisory group on COVID mortality, told The Guardian the five million death mark was passed ‘a long time ago’ and that ‘at least 10 million people’ have died during the pandemic to date.
 
He suggests excess death tolls – which are 40% higher than pre-pandemic levels – are a more reliable indicator than official tallies, due to certain countries being statistical ‘black holes’. In some countries, like Egypt, excess mortality has been 13 times high than official figures, Mr Karlinsky said.
 
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also recently pointed out that COVID testing has been 80 times greater in high-income countries than low-income countries, and that the pandemic is continuing ‘in large part because inequitable access to tools persists’.
 
‘If the 6.8 billion vaccine doses administered globally so far had been distributed equitably, we would have reached our 40% target in every country by now,’ he said.
 
‘A lack of testing is leaving many countries blind to how the virus is circulating, and the world blind to emerging variants … unless the pandemic is controlled everywhere, the virus will mutate and continue to circulate everywhere.
 
‘All countries, including high-income countries, are at continued high risk of being exposed to new variants, infecting those who are fully vaccinated, risking the effectiveness of the tools we have, and risking the re-introduction of more stringent public health measures.’
 
Only 3.6% of people in low-income countries have been vaccinated.
 
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Dr Donald Barclay Reid   3/11/2021 4:14:05 PM

It's all very well to pat ourselves on the back with these figures, but according to the Guardian (www.theguardian.com/society/2021/oct/21/only-14-of-promised-covid-vaccine-doses-reach-poorest-nations?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other ), the promised distribution of our AZ vaccine to poorer countries is far less than 14% achieved. These countries are less than 3% vaccinated on average, and are potential hotbeds for new variants to arise that may put us all at 100% risk again!