The “true death toll” of COVID-19 is three times higher than the publicised mortality rate, a new study has reported.

Researchers from Washington University have found that nearly 13 million more people than suggested have died as a result of the coronavirus.

During the study, the team of academics measured the death toll of more than 190 countries to determine the true mortality rate across the world.

They found that some deaths were connected to other health complications instead of the virus because the disease could trigger problems with other medical conditions, including heart or lung disease.

In addition, they discovered that the number of excess deaths – above the average death rate per year – during the pandemic was 120 deaths per 100,000 people.

Official records have reported that 5.9 million people across the globe have died from COVID-19; however, the researchers in this study have identified that 18.2 million people have actually died from the virus.

According to the findings, COVID-19 death rates were predominantly higher in poorer countries, but mortality levels were also high in Italy and certain parts of America.

The countries with the highest number of excess death rates are North Macedonia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Bolivia and Bulgaria, the scientists have confirmed.

Meanwhile, they reported that the lowest number of excess mortality rates were measured in New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore.

In the UK, roughly 173,000 people died with COVID-19 during the pandemic, researchers have said. Additionally, they have identified that the excess mortality rate is 130 people per 100,000.

Senior author, Dr Haidong Wang said: “Understanding the true death toll from the pandemic is vital for effective public health decision-making.

“Studies from several countries, including Sweden and the Netherlands, suggest COVID was the direct cause of most excess deaths, but we currently don’t have enough evidence for most locations.”

Dr Wang added: “Further research will help to reveal how many deaths were caused directly by COVID, and how many occurred as an indirect result of the pandemic.”

Experts have announced that vaccines and new treatments will reduce the excess death rate.

The study was published in The Lancet.

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