Mexico’s Covid-19 death toll in the first eight months of 2020 was a lot higher than that reported by the federal government, according to data published Wednesday by the national statistics agency Inegi.
Inegi said that a preliminary analysis of death certificates indicated that there were 108,658 Covid-19 deaths in Mexico between January and August last year.
The figure is 44.8% higher than the 75,017 deaths that were attributed to the infectious disease in the first eight months of 2020.
Edgar Vielma Orozco, an Inegi director, said in a radio interview that the fact that a lot of Covid-19 victims have died at home rather than in hospital could partially explain the discrepancy between the Inegi and Health Ministry numbers.
“A lot of people are not dying in hospitals, they’re dying in their homes. In fact, the majority of people die in their homes – 58% die outside hospitals. That could partially explain this difference,” he said.
Similarly, Inegi president Julio Santaella told local media that the statistics agency’s count is based on death certificates while the Health Ministry uses hospital data.
Inegi also reported Wednesday that 673,260 deaths occurred between January and August 2020. The figure is 37.9% – or almost 185,000 – higher than the average number of deaths in the same period during the eight previous years.
The 108,658 Covid-19 fatalities in the January-August period account for 58.7% of the 184,917 “excess deaths.”
Covid-19 is likely to have been the cause of some of the other additional deaths although they were not classified as such. Some were likely the result of people with existing health problems not seeking out the medical attention they required out of fear that they could contract the coronavirus at hospitals and clinics.
Mexico City, the country’s coronavirus epicenter since the beginning of the pandemic, recorded the biggest spike in deaths in the January-August period followed by México state, Veracruz and Jalisco.
Inegi reported that Covid-19 was the second-leading cause of death between January and August 2020 after heart disease, which claimed almost 142,000 lives in the period. Diabetes, which caused almost 100,000 fatalities, was the third most common cause of death.
The Health Ministry has previously reported that were more than 193,000 excess deaths between January 1 and September 26, 2020. It said in October that 139,153 of the excess deaths – or 72% – were judged to have been caused by Covid-19.
Mexico’s official death toll rose to 152,106 on Tuesday with 1,743 additional fatalities – the second highest single-day total of the pandemic – but the real toll is almost certainly closer to 200,000.
The accumulated case tally increased to almost 1.79 million after 17,165 new cases were reported on Tuesday. The case tally is also widely believed to be a significant undercount as Mexico’s Covid-19 testing rate is very low compared to many other countries.