Peru once again No. 1 country in Covid mortality

Lima, May 31 (EFE).- Peru on Monday once again became the country with the No. 1 Covid-19 mortality after the government revised the death toll for the pandemic so far, adding more than 111,000 to the list to create a total almost three times the earlier statistic regarding the impact of the coronavirus since it hit the Andean nation more than a year ago.

With the aim of clarifying the real toll from the pandemic, the Peruvian government in April established a technical working group which on Monday presented its final report in which it reported that the number of dead from Covid-19 in the country totaled 180,764 between March 2020 and May 22, 2021.

This figure, significantly above the roughly 70,000 dead registered in the latest government report on the pandemic toll, once again made Peru the country with the highest Covid-19 mortality rate, a dire record that Lima already had set last August during the first infection wave.

Specifically, the coronavirus mortality rate in the South American country was put at 551 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, exceeding the figure for countries like Hungary and the Czech Republic, which at the beginning of May had headed the worldwide list with figures of 304 and 283 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively.

The Peruvian authorities’ revision of the fatality statistics comes after the recommendations of the working group, made up of members of civil society and health sector officials, who took into account new criteria in identifying Covid-19 cases and created a new tool for tallying pandemic deaths.

To date, the Peruvian government has been preparing a daily report of pandemic deaths that only included those patients who had died showing Covid symptoms and had received a positive test for the virus.

This method’s underestimation of the death toll had already been clear and that was confirmed by figures compiled by Sinadef, the national death registration system overseen by the Health Ministry which, upon tallying both the confirmed and suspected fatal cases of Covid-19, quickly converted this into the tool that provided a more accurate total for pandemic deaths.

To date, Sinadef had reported approximately 180,000 excess deaths since the start of the pandemic above and beyond what would normally be expected during that time, and those excess deaths are virtually all attributable to the health emergency.

Now, the technical committee has provided Sinadef-Lab to the government as a new tool for counting the number of Covid deaths using Sinadef’s database but augmenting those figures with laboratory data.

In addition, to the criterion of having a positive reactive molecular test for SARS-CoV-2, experts added six other criteria, including positive serological and radiological tests, as well as suspected cases with clinical profiles compatible with Covid, among others.

On the basis of this new methodology, the working group estimated that 180,764 was the figure most closely estimating the real deaths caused by Covid-19 in Peru, with 89,884 of them occurring in the first wave and 90,880 in the ongoing second wave, which has not yet run its course.

Once the report was presented, Health Minister Oscar Ugarte verified the interim Francisco Sagasti government’s commitment to take “immediate action” as recommended by the expert committee, as well as to continue using the new methodology.

“Starting (Tuesday) we will be incorporating the information achieved by the working group,” said the minister, adding that to do that will require a ministerial resolution that will be approved on Monday.

In addition, Ugarte said that the government was willing to present this new methodology to the World Health Organization so that “the member countries can enrich their own experience and so that this may serve as an example to follow.”

The minister said that the final report of the technical group “is not saying that there are more deaths than there were,” but rather that “a significant number of deaths were not identified as being caused by Covid-19.”

“This is an updating of the information and it’s what’s going to continue starting (on Tuesday),” he said.

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