Scientist estimates Mexico has registered 165,000 coronavirus-related deaths

Experts have questioned Mexico’s official reports regarding coronavirus-related deaths 

Scientist estimates Mexico has registered 165,000 coronavirus-related deaths
In Mexico City, the media denounced and documented an underreporting factor concerning COVID19 deaths — Photo: Marco Ugarte/AP
English 09/08/2020 14:02 Raúl Rojas Mexico City Actualizada 14:09
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The numbers released by the National Center of Preventive Programs and Disease Control (CENAPRECE) on July 25 would worry any government. According to the government department, until June 30, Mexico registered 71,315 more deaths than in previous years. What is the difference between other years? COVID-19. The overwhelming surge in deaths is likely the result of the novel coronavirus and many others are collateral damages, for example, people with heart disease or cancer perhaps didn’t receive medical attention. 

However, the numbers only include 20 states. When you adjust the additional deaths and consider the other 12 states that weren’t included in the report, we have up to 104,400 deaths until June 30. That same day, authorities registered 27,769 coronavirus-related deaths. The factor between both numbers is 3.8.

In other words, the reports issued by the Health Ministry cover 25% of all cases. In Mexico City, Nexos Magazine and NGO Mexicans Against Corruption denounced an underreporting factor; however, health authorities didn’t comment on the situation.

On June 25, I published mana article where I suggested to multiply the official coronavirus-related deaths by a 2.8 factor to obtain a number close to reality. I thought the underreporting factor in Mexico City, 4, would be lower throughout the country but it wasn’t the case. 

Recommended: Mexico beats the odds: Are younger people likely to die of COVID-19?

Until July 25, health authorities reported 43,374 COVID-19 deaths. Considering the underreporting factor, we can estimate that Mexico had over 165,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

What was the authorities’ response regarding this statistics disaster? Back in June, the Mexican government said “Mexico is setting an example for the world.” Now, authorities are blaming people and not the Health Ministry. Nevertheless, if people who suffer from other illnesses are the problem, authorities should have issued this diagnosis at the beginning of this administration, and perhaps health authorities wouldn’t have under-spent 17% of its budget in 2019, and the health budget for 2020 wouldn’t have stagnated.

During the whole process, Congress has been absent. Multiple reports denouncing the underreporting of deaths haven’t been enough for lawmakers and senators to take matters into their hands and investigate the numbers issued by the Health Ministry. In any democratic country, the scandalous handling of official numbers would shock the country, but in Mexico, the reports will likely be dismissed. Authorities will continue registering coronavirus-related deaths the same way. It will be business as usual.

The numbers released by CENAPRECE, Mexico is the second or third country with the highest death toll amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Brazil probably has the same underreporting issue.

Recommended: The Mexico City neighborhoods with the most COVID-19 cases

Why doesn’t the government show a stronger reaction to these new numbers even if they quadruple the official numbers? Because 165,000 coronavirus-related deaths only represent 22% of Mexico’s annual death rate. If around 250,000 people die by the end of 2020, it would be a third of the deaths expected this year. It is as if a third of the people who would die in 2021 died in 2020.

Regarding the loss of life expectancy, what is happening in Mexico has no comparison to what is happening in countries with efficient health systems. In Europe, life expectancy is around 81-years-old and those who died of COVID-19 were around 82-years-old, there is almost no difference. On the other hand, in Mexico, those who died of COVID-19 were around 61-year-old, while the life expectancy is 75-years-old. On average, those patients lost 14 years. In total, there are 2.3 years of life lost due to COVID-19 in Mexico.

The COVID-19 pandemic is like a humanitarian crisis on a large scale. Along with the economic crisis, it is condemning millions of Mexicans into extreme poverty. Mexico is indeed setting an example to the world.


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