Mexico’s COVID death toll much higher than previously reported

Government data shows 294,287 coronavirus-related deaths through March 15, over 61 percent higher than confirmed toll.

The new total is 61.4 percent higher than the confirmed death toll of 182,301 shown in the same table and reported in 2020 [File: Victor Medina/Reuters]

Mexico has registered more than 294,000 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, new government figures show, confirming long-held beliefs that the country’s confirmed death count was far below the real figure.

The data shows 294,287 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in Mexico through March 15 of this year.

That is 61.4 percent higher than the confirmed death toll of 182,301 shown in the same table.

The Mexican government has long said it believed COVID-19 fatalities were higher than the official count, largely due to a lack of testing in the country.

The number of excess deaths, which is the difference between projected deaths and reported ones, in Mexico during the pandemic stood at 417,002 by the sixth week of 2021, the new data also showed.

Last week, the government announced that coronavirus-related deaths had surpassed the 200,000 mark, the third-highest total in the world after the United States and Brazil.

Mexico also has struggled to secure vaccines to inoculate its population.

Earlier this month, the US government announced it would “loan” 2.7 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Mexico to help with its vaccination effort.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter last week that the country expected to receive all the doses by April 1.

“Mexico appreciates this great support from the government of President Biden against COVID-19,” he said.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has himself recovered from the virus, has been accused of being slow to impose a lockdown and has worn a mask only on rare occasions.

The left-wing populist, who continues to enjoy high public approval ratings, has pointed out, however, that the Mexican government was one of the first in Latin America to start vaccinations, on December 24.

So far roughly 6.1 million doses have been administered in the country of 126 million people.

“For there to be a true mass vaccination, we need to have 10 million vaccinations a month,” epidemiologist Alejandro Macias told the AFP news agency.

On Saturday, former President Felipe Calderon wrote on Twitter that “more than 400,000 Mexicans have died, above the average for previous years … probably the highest figure in the world”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies