The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday released its much-awaited report on excess death estimates for the world during the two pandemic years, showing more than 4.74 million (47.4 lakh) such deaths in India — nearly 10 times higher than the country's official Covid-19 toll.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that almost 15 million deaths globally were directly or indirectly associated with the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of 2021.

According to the WHO's estimates, the full Covid-19 death toll, or "excess mortality," was approximately 14.9 million between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021. This figure is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years, Xinhua news agency reported.

The WHO said most of the excess deaths -- 84 percent -- were concentrated in South-East Asia, Europe and the Americas, and some 68 percent in just ten countries globally. Middle-income countries accounted for 81 percent of the 14.9 million excess deaths, while high-income and low-income countries each accounted for 15 and 4 percent, respectively.

For India, the WHO said about 8.3 lakh deaths are estimated to have happened in 2020 itself. India alone accounted for a third of the total numbers, according to WHO. 

"These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

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