The pandemic’s true death toll: millions more than official counts

Amid the search for ways to count deaths, Andrew Noymer, [associate professor of public health], a demographer at the University of California, Irvine, says the pandemic and the increased demand for real-time mortality figures highlight a demographic shortcoming that goes back decades: many countries simply don’t collect good data on births, deaths and other vital statistics. … That means the true death toll of COVID-19 might always be disputed. “We still don’t know how many people died in the 1918 [flu] pandemic, but I always figured we would know pretty well how many people would die in the next one, because we live in the modern world,” Noymer says. “But we don’t actually, and that’s kind of sad for me as a demographer.”