Mexico City Virus Deaths 3 Times Those Reported

Clear evidence that the country is deliberately undercounting the death toll.

A barrel organ player hopes for donations in Mexico City. (AP photo/Christian Palma)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A registry of death certificates in Mexico City suggests there were 4,577 cases in which doctors mentioned Covid-19 as a possible or probable cause of death, more than three times the official death toll in the city.

The federal government acknowledges only 1,332 confirmed deaths in Mexico City since the pandemic began, less than one-third as many as the investigation revealed.

The group Mexicans Against Corruption said in a report Monday that it got access to a database of death certificates issued in Mexico City between March 18 and May 12. It showed that in explanatory notes attached to 4,577 death certificates, doctors included the words “SARS,” “COV2,” “COV,” “Covid 19,” or “new coronavirus.”

The virus’ technical name is SARS-CoV-2. The notes the group counted included terms such as “suspected,” “probable”, or “possible” role of the virus in the deaths. In 3,209 of the certificates, it was listed as a suspected contributing factor along with other causes of death, such as pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure.

Only 323 certificates list confirmed coronavirus as a cause of death; 1,045 other death certificates listed Covid-19 but did not specify whether it was suspected or confirmed.

The group did not say how it got access to the database, which was kept by local courts. But it said that official counts showed only 1,060 coronavirus deaths during the March 18-May 12 period.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has acknowledged there are more deaths than have been reported, and said a special commission will review the death figures. Her office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the new report.

Mexico performs relatively few tests; only about 150,000 have been carried out so far in a nation of about 125 million people. Federal officials acknowledge some victims have died without being tested and have pledged that cases where death certificates mention coronavirus as a possible or probable cause of death would eventually be added to official death tolls. But they have suggested those “suspected” cases were only about one-tenth of test-confirmed deaths.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reacted angrily to new reports in the past that claimed Mexico was undercounting its deaths on the federal level, and Monday’s report is unlikely to please him. It comes from a group he has criticized for opposing his policies and allegedly representing business interests, and he has mockingly called the group “Mexicans For Corruption”.

The group’s founder is Claudio X. Gonzalez, a lawyer, activist and the son of a prominent business magnate.

Mexico City, with about 9 million residents, has been the worst-hit part of the country. The additional 3,245 deaths in Mexico City, if they are confirmed or added to official counts, would push the national death toll from the 5,332 reported by federal officials Monday to 8,577.


By MARK STEVENSON

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