The global official death toll of COVID-19 ticked past 4 million on Wednesday but experts believe there are likely millions more who have perished from the disease.
The official toll, managed by sources from John Hopkins University, indicates that three times the annual number of car accident victims worldwide have perished from COVID-19.
However, analysis from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) in the US has indicated that as recently as May 2021, the more likely number of worldwide deaths from COVID-19 is 6.9 million.
The analysis demonstrated that in May the US led other nations for its COVID-19 death toll with more than 900,000 fatalities, followed by India, Mexico and Brazil. The regions hardest hit were Latin America and the Caribbean, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.
IMHE director Dr Chris Murray said many deaths from COVID-19 go unreported because countries only report deaths that occur in hospitals or in patients with a confirmed infection. He added that weak health reporting systems in many nations, and low access to health care, magnified the challenge of accurate figures.
“As terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic appears, this analysis shows that the actual toll is significantly worse,” Murray said.
“Understanding the true number of COVID-19 deaths not only helps us appreciate the magnitude of this global crisis, but also provides valuable information to policymakers developing response and recovery plans.”
Another wave of the virus is now outbreaking in many parts of the world, driven by the new more contagious COVID-19 Delta strain.
Countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa have been recording some of their highest rates of cases to date and the World Health Organization has called for widespread mask use, as some governments decide to implement lockdown measures to deal with new outbreaks.
Just as Australia’s nearest neighbour Indonesia planned to reopen its borders to international visitors, it has been forced to implement restrictions across the main island of Java and Bali until July 20.
Indonesian cemeteries and hospitals are buckling under the pressure of seriously ill COVID patients, with insufficient oxygen supplies and questions over the efficacy of available vaccinations there drawing the ire of many.
Children have made up about 600 of the deaths in Indonesia since the start of the pandemic, and Wednesday marked the deadliest day for the country with 1,040 fatalities.
The Australian government announced on Wednesday that it would be providing a support package to Indonesia, including 2.5 million AstraZeneca doses, to help the nation respond to its growing public health crisis.