Mexican doctors cited coronavirus as a ‘probable cause’ on 4,577 death certificates

A worker updates a database tracking hospital bed occupancy, data which feeds the city's public app showing which hospitals in Mexico's hard-hit capital still have space to accept COVID-19 patients, in the C5 emergency operations center in Mexico City. AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

More than 4,500 death certificates in Mexico City have coronavirus or COVID-19 referenced on it, the Associated Press reported.

Officials only counted 1,322 deaths from the virus. 

Mexico City officials told The New York Times that government officials’ data was inaccurate. 

Business Insider (May 20, 2020).- While the Mexican federal government has reported only 1,332 in Mexico City, death certificates in the city suggest that 4,577 have died from the virus, more than three times the official number, the Associated Press reported. 

Doctors mentioned coronavirus as a “possible or probable” cause of death on the more than 4,500 death certificates, according to the anti-corruption group Mexicans Against Corruption, which told the AP they got access to a database of death certificates issued in Mexico City between March 18 and May 12.

However, the AP reported that the group did not say how they accessed the database. 

Only 323 of the certificates confirmed COVID-19 was a cause of death and in 3,209 of the certificates, COVID-19 was listed as a “suspected contributing factor” alongside other illnesses like pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, or multiple organ failure. 

Another 1,045 certificates have coronavirus listed but did not says if it was suspected or confirmed the cause of death. 

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Mexican officials were allegedly not reporting the real number of coronavirus deaths in the city and that the city had been alerting the government “to the deaths repeatedly, hoping it will come clean to the public about the true toll of the virus on the nation’s biggest city and, by extension, the country at large.”

At the time, when the official death count stood at 700, officials in Mexico City said there were over “2,500 deaths from the virus and from serious respiratory illnesses that doctors suspect were related to Covid-19.”

Some in Mexico City told The Times, that the federal government isn’t grasping how serious the issue is, after claiming the country is faring better than others and is flattening the curve. 

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum doubted federal coronavirus numbers about a month ago and told her staff to call every public hospital in “the Mexico City area to ask about all confirmed and suspected Covid-19 deaths.”

“That is shocking,” Fernando Alarid-Escudero, who has a Ph.D. in health services research, policy, and administration, with a specialty in public health and health decision sciences, told The Times. “If that is the case, and we are not really capturing all those people who eventually die, we are not getting a sense of the picture.”

“We are way underestimating the magnitude of the epidemic,” he added.