Aerial view of graves in a special area dedicated to Covid-19 victims in the urban pantheon of Valle de Chalco, state of Mexico, taken on March 26, 2021.
Alfredo Estrella | AFP | Getty Images
The Mexican government admitted Saturday that the actual death toll from the country’s coronavirus pandemic is now over 321,000, nearly 60% more than the official test-confirmed figure of 201,429.
Mexico does few tests, and because hospitals were overwhelmed, many Mexicans died at home without getting a test. The only way to get a clear picture is by checking “excessive deaths” and death certificates.
On Saturday, the government tacitly released such a report, which found that there had been 294,287 Covid-19-related deaths from the start of the pandemic to February 14. As of February 15, there have been an additional 26,772 test-confirmed deaths.
The higher toll would be able to compete with that of Brazil, which currently has the second highest number of deaths in the world after the USA. But Mexico’s population of 126 million is far smaller than any of those countries.
The new report also confirms how deadly Mexico’s second wave was in January. As of late December, estimates of excessive deaths put a total of around 220,000 COVID-19-related deaths in Mexico. That number rose by around 75,000 in just a month and a half.
Also obvious was the total number of “excessive deaths” since the pandemic began of around 417,000. Surplus deaths are determined by comparing the deaths in a given year with those that would be expected based on data from previous years.
A review of death certificates found that approximately 70.5% of excess deaths were related to COVID-19, often because it was listed on the certificates as a suspected or contributory cause of death. However, some experts say that COVID-19 may have contributed to many other deaths because many people could not get treatment for other diseases because hospitals were overwhelmed.
Former President Felipe Calderón wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday that “more than 400,000 Mexicans have died, above the average of the past few years … probably the highest number in the world”.