COVID Has Killed 15 Million People Worldwide, WHO Says
The problem is that 85 of the 194 countries surveyed by the WHO technical advisory group that came up with the new estimates don’t have good enough death registries for this to be a viable approach. Forty-one of those countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.
For these countries, a team led by Jonathan Wakefield, a statistician at the University of Washington in Seattle, used the data from countries with complete death registries to build another statistical model able to predict total COVID deaths in any month from other measures, including temperature , the percentage of COVID tests returning positive, a rating of the stringency of social distancing and other measures to limit infection, and rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease — conditions that put people at high risk of dying from COVID.
The Indian health ministry objected strongly to this model in its response to the New York Times article. But the WHO team didn’t actually use it to estimate Indian COVID deaths. India falls into an intermediate group of countries that have reasonably good data on total deaths in some regions but not in others. So Wakefield’s team used data from 17 Indian states with adequate death registries, applied the standard excess deaths approach used for countries with complete death registries, and then extrapolated from these states to the entire country.
“We only base the predictions of how many people died in India in those two years on Indian data,” Wakefield told BuzzFeed News.
Importantly, the WHO’s estimates for Indian