3 million people have died since the Omicron variant emerged, shattering perceptions that the pandemic is over The COVID-19 death toll has been four times higher in lower-income countries than in rich ones, according to a new report published today by Oxfam on behalf of the People’s Vaccine Alliance as the world prepares to mark two years since the World Health Organisation declared the pandemic. While the pandemic has been devastating for rich countries like Australia, the world’s poorest countries have been hardest hit, with women and children bearing a disproportionate burden. Lack of testing and reporting means that very large numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 go unreported, especially in the poorest countries. Modelling using measures of excess deaths estimates that 19.6 million people have died because of COVID-19, over three times the official death toll. Based on this analysis, Oxfam calculated that for every death in a high-income country, an estimated four other people have died in a low or lower-middle income country. On a per capita basis, deaths in low and lower middle-income countries are 31% higher than high income countries. Oxfam also calculated that three million COVID-19 deaths have occurred in the three months since the Omicron variant emerged. The figure shatters perceptions that Omicron’s milder illness means the pandemic is coming to an end, as the more contagious variant tears through unvaccinated populations. By some estimates, over half of humanity is set to have been infected with COVID-19 by the end of March 2022. While most cases will be mild, the sheer number of cases means that numbers of deaths remain high. The report also outlines that:
- Every minute, four children around the world have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID. In India alone, more than two million children lost a caregiver.
- Women have been 1.4 times more likely to drop out of the labour force than men because of the pandemic.
- 99% of humanity is worse off because of COVID-19, 160 million people have been pushed into poverty, and 137 million people have lost their jobs.