Coronavirus becomes the second leading cause of death in Mexico in 2020

28/01/2021

Covid-19 became the second leading cause of death in Mexico in the first months of 2020. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) estimates that 108,658 of the deaths that occurred between January and August were directly due to the coronavirus. This figure is 40% higher than that reported by the Ministry of Health at the end of August and implies that 44,244 more Mexicans died due to the virus than officially estimated.

In August, the Mexican Health Ministry reported that around 64,000 people had died from the virus, a scenario already considered "catastrophic" by health authorities. Data from INEGI, which counts the deaths with death certificates from the Civil Registry, the Forensic Medical Services, and the statistical notebooks supplied by the Public Prosecutor's Offices, now show that practically half of the number of deaths had actually occurred. It was not until the end of November that the official communiqué of the Ministry of Health registered more than 100,000 deaths.

Inegi's General Director of Sociodemographic Statistics, Edgar Vielma, has given an explanation for this disparity of counts. In an interview on Radio Fórmula, he reported that the federal government reports the figures of those who died from coronary heart disease in hospitals, while the Mexican institute also counts those who died in their homes or even in the street. According to Vielma, 58% of coronavirus deaths have occurred outside hospitals.

The Mexican institute, which will release the full, detailed report in October, outlines in broad strokes what the arrival of the coronavirus has meant for Mexico's death toll. Excess mortality has become one of the countries' most reliable tools for measuring the true extent of the pandemic, and 184,039 more people died in the first eight months of 2020 than in 2019, according to Inegi. In total, there were 683,823, many more than expected for that period. This 37.9% excess, the Mexican institute attributes largely to covid-19.

Covid-19 is second only to heart disease, which has claimed more than 140,000 people, as a cause of death in Mexico. In the case of women, diabetes is also ahead. Because of the 108,000 deaths caused by the virus, around 70% are men. In this list, homicides (22,798 deaths up to August) are placed as the eighth cause of death in the country, ahead of accidents and chronic lung diseases.

The states with the highest number of deaths compared to the previous year are the State of Mexico with 84,185, Mexico City (82,449), Veracruz (50,842), and Jalisco (40,158). Inegi also briefly points out that July shows the highest number of deaths registered (17.1% of the total), followed by June and August with 15.5% and 14.9%. These data contrast with the impression that the pandemic was more under control in the summer months.