Global COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 6 Million

Carolyn Crist

March 07, 2022

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The official global COVID-19 death toll passed 6 million on Monday, marking another grim milestone as the pandemic enters its third year.

The U.S. has reported the highest number of deaths by far, with more than 958,000 total deaths as of Monday morning, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Brazil has recorded more than 650,000 deaths, followed by India with 515,000 and Russia with almost 350,000.

After the pandemic began in early 2020, the first million deaths were recorded in 7 months. Another 1 million people died 4 months later, and then 1 million people died every 3 months until the death toll hit 5 million at the end of October.

The death rate appears to be slowing somewhat, though public health officials say the world probably hit 6 million COVID-19 deaths some time ago, according to The Associated Press. The numbers are likely an undercount in many countries due to poor record-keeping and testing, as well as excess deaths related to the pandemic but not from coronavirus infections.

In the U.S., COVID-19 deaths averaged 1,559 over the 7 days before March 2, a drop of 8.9%, according to the CDC. Overall case numbers have fallen 28.5% over those 7 days to an average of 53,017.

COVID-19 deaths are decreasing in some countries and increasing in others. Remote Pacific islands such as Tonga and the Solomon Islands, which stayed isolated and protected for more than 2 years, are now facing their first outbreaks and deaths due to the Omicron variant, the AP reported.

Hong Kong, which is also reporting a surge in cases and deaths, has responded by ramping up its testing and requiring citizens to get tested three times this month.

Worldwide, COVID-19 deaths are still highest among unvaccinated people. Global vaccine disparity continues, with about 7% of people in low-income countries considered fully vaccinated, compared to more than 73% in high-income countries, the AP reported.

"This is a disease of the unvaccinated — look what is happening in Hong Kong right now, the health system is being overwhelmed," Tikki Pang, PhD, co-chair of the Asia Pacific Immunization Coalition, told the AP.

"The large majority of the deaths and the severe cases are in the unvaccinated, vulnerable segment of this population," he said.

Nearly 447 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded worldwide, according to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University. More than 50 million cases have been reported in the last 28 days.

New weekly cases have been declining in all regions except for the Western Pacific, which includes China, Japan, South Korea, and the remote Pacific islands, according to the latest World Health Organization report. New weekly deaths increased in the Western Pacific and Eastern Mediterranean regions.

Sources:

The Associated Press: "Death toll surpasses 6 million for pandemic now in 3rd year."

Johns Hopkins University: "COVID-19 Mortality Analyses," "COVID-19 Dashboard."

World Health Organization: "Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 — 1 March 2022."

CDC: "In Focus: COVID-19 Community Levels."

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