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Why COVID-19 Probably Killed More People Than We Realize

Harvard Business Working Knowledge: “Millions of people around the world have died from COVID-19, according to government records, but research by Ethan Rouen, George Serafeim, and Botir Kobilov suggests that the actual number could be much higher. As the number of casualties from COVID-19 ballooned at an alarming rate last year, some feared that government officials were failing to report several coronavirus-related losses and the actual death toll was much higher worldwide. While the official count shows more than 5 million people have died of the disease, a new study of underreported casualties in several countries indicates that COVID has actually killed hundreds of thousands more people than government records document. In 2020, 51 countries reported 3,140 more deaths on average than they typically see in a year, the research shows. COVID likely caused that lethal spike, but government officials didn’t link these unexplained deaths with the disease, according to a team of Harvard Business School researchers. In fact, the number of actual deaths in some countries, like Ecuador and Bolivia, was more than triple the number reported, representing tens of thousands of losses that were never attributed to the pandemic. And the United States saw the highest number of unexplained deaths in 2020: a total of 50,876, the research shows…

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