Since the COVID-19 epidemic started just over three years ago, a large number of people have died either directly from the disease or in combination with other factors. The exact number will never be known and will always be a matter of controversy because of an unclear definition of what constitutes COVID-19-related death or the lack of reliable data.
One way of looking at it is to look at excess deaths, with estimates ranging from just over 15 million to nearly 30 million, while nearly 7 million are classified as “confirmed”.
For comparison, the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61 caused between 15 million and 55 million, due to starvation. Both can be seen on the plot below as comparable peaks in the annual number of deaths:
A similar point has just been made on Twitter, with another striking graph:
But, in the First World War, total casualties are listed as 15 million to 22 million, including both military and civilian deaths as well as malnutrition and diseases, but excluding Spanish flu.
Going back in time, the Napoleonic wars might have caused between 2.4 and 6 million deaths.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has not finished yet…