- The global coronavirus death toll has officially surpassed 1 million.
- But experts believe that because of underreporting in several countries, the actual death toll is much higher.
- Researchers also fear that undetected cases, like when a victim dies before getting tested, are contributing to an undercount.
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What started with a first reported death from coronavirus in Wuhan on January 11, has, in less than a year, become a tragedy of global proportions.
And as the official death toll ticks over the 1 million mark, we’re still asking how some of those lives could have been saved, and how we can prevent more loss and suffering.
But how accurate are the statistics?
The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard receives data from 188 countries and territories on deaths attributable to coronavirus. But some countries are not represented at all, and there’s inconsistency among those who do keep a tally.
Researchers with EuroMOMO, a European organization that tracks mortality data across the continent, have noticed the same trend.
“In a pandemic, especially in a new disease, you don’t have a proper testing available,” Lasse Vestergaard, EuroMomo project coordinator, told Business Insider Today. “Many infected cases will not be tested and therefore not confirmed. The counting of reported deaths is a key set of data — you know for sure these are confirmed cases of COVID. However, that does not necessarily give the full picture.”
“It doesn’t get all cases. That 1 million had been reached a little while ago already.”
Undetected cases can skew the data, for example, by making the virus appear more deadly in one country than another.
Similarly, some victims may die from COVID-19 without ever reaching a hospital or being tested.
These numbers all feed into a country’s mortality rate — the