The World Health Organization highlights the devastating impact of the health crisis caused by Covid-19.

In 2020 and 2021 alone, Covid resulted in the loss of 336.8 million years of life worldwide, according to the Organization.

"It's like losing 22 years of life for every excess death," Samira Asma, WHO's deputy chief for data and analysis, told reporters before the launch.

And this calculation is based on data available in 2022.

Since then, the death toll has continued to climb even if at a slower pace, prompting the WHO to lift its highest level of health alert, not without warning that Covid had not disappeared.

The official death toll attributed to the disease, updated regularly by WHO, is 6.9 million people as of 17 May.

But many countries have not provided reliable data to the WHO, which estimates that the pandemic has claimed nearly three times as many lives in three years, at least 20 million deaths.

It is based on the calculation of excess mortality, defined as the difference between the actual number of deaths and the estimated number of deaths in the absence of a pandemic.

These 20 million include direct deaths from Covid but also deaths related to the impact of the pandemic on health systems.

Friday's report highlighted that "significant inequalities underlie the distribution of Covid-19 cases and deaths, as well as access to vaccinations."

Covid-19: "at least 20 million dead" © Valentin RAKOVSKY, Jean-Michel CORNU / AFP

The WHO warned that the pandemic has contributed to the derailment of many health-related indicators that have been improving for years.

In the first two decades of the century, the world saw significant improvements in maternal and child health, with deaths falling by a third and half respectively, according to the report. The incidence of infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria has also decreased significantly, as has the risk of premature death from noncommunicable diseases.

Together, these factors have helped increase global life expectancy from 67 years in 2000 to 73 years in 2019.

But after the outbreak of the pandemic, existing inequalities widened, reversing among other things the positive trend for malaria and tuberculosis, notes the WHO.

© 2023 AFP