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Mexico could release its complete COVID-19 death toll  in 2 years

Dr. López-Gatell questioned whether the figure was important or whether it could be measured

Mexico could release its complete COVID-19 death toll  in 2 years
Cemetery workers wear protective gear as they bury an unclaimed Covid-19 coronavirus victim, at the Municipal Cemetery No. 13 in Tijuana, Baja California - Photo: Guillermo Arias/AFP
English 29/09/2020 11:02 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Susana Zavala/EL UNIVERSAL, AP Actualizada 11:07

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Dr. Hugo López-Gatell, Mexico’s COVID-19 czar, said that definitive data on the country’s death toll from COVID-19 would not be available for “a couple of years.”

The statement made by Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell is likely to revive debate about Mexico’s death toll, currently at 76,430, the fourth-highest in the world.

“When will the final statistics on deaths from COVID-19 be ready? Certainly, a couple of years after the first year of the pandemic,” López-Gatell said, adding that work would be left to the INEGI, the country’s statistics institute.

During a press conference, the COVID-19 czar said the INEGI is responsible for registering the death toll through the use of specific classification criteria:

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“The INEGI produces death statistics using the information provided by the health sector, but through the use of different methods to carry out a careful analysis.”

López-Gatell added that amid a public health emergency, epidemiological surveillance must be carried out through technical questions to inform people about the prevention, control, recovery, and rehabilitation.

Previously, officials have acknowledged that the figure is a significant undercount because it includes only those who died after a positive test result, almost always at a hospital. Mexico does very little testing, and many people die without a test.

But the Mexican government has avoided adjusting its death toll upward to account for people who died at home or weren’t tested.

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Some parts of the country like Mexico City have begun conducting their recalculations, and finding “excess deaths” likely caused by coronavirus were at least double official figures.

The issue is a significant one in Mexico, especially because President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has frequently compared Mexico’s death rates to those of other countries in a bid to convince the public that his administration isn’t doing a bad job at handling the pandemic. But many other countries have attempted to adjust official figures to account for spikes in deaths that coincide with virus outbreaks.

Over the weekend, Dr. López-Gatell questioned whether the figure was important or whether it could be measured.

He described the definitive death toll as “one of these technical details” and said the pandemic “cannot be measured.”

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