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For the second consecutive year, the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI) released the preliminary and partial results of the Statistics of Deaths registered in Mexico. Unlike what the SSA reports daily on deaths from COVID-19, this information comes “…from the administrative records generated from the death certificates provided by the Civil Registry offices and the Forensic Medical Services, supplemented by death certificates. death issued by the Civil Registry and with the statistical notebooks provided by the Public Ministry Agencies…” By using these sources, it only refers to deaths from January 1 to June 30, 2021. As the previous year, INEGI clarifies that the definitive figures will be published until October 2022. Although the data from death certificates are much more reliable than the epidemiological surveillance report, it is advisable to take these results with caution because they are preliminary.

According to INEGI, in the first half of 2021, the first cause of death in the country and in 20 states of the republic was COVID-19. It is important to mention that in the final figures for 2020, INEGI was emphatic that COVID-19 was the second leading cause at the national level, below heart disease, and that it was the leading cause of death in 7 states. It took only six months of last year for the proportion of total deaths from COVID-19 to increase from 18.4% to 26%. Table No 1 shows that COVID-19 has an increase of 7.5 percentage points, but the other nine causes, according to the Mexican list of main causes of death, practically do not change their proportion between 2020 and 2021, although only reference is made to 559,183 deaths, equivalent to 51.5% of those registered in all of 2020. Of the 20 states in which COVID-19 is now the first cause of death, in 2020 in eight states it ranked first in men and in total; and in five in men, women and total. They stand out in the first Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Coahuila and Quintana Roo, to which CDMX, Edo are added. from Mexico and Nuevo Leon.

By comparing the deaths that occurred in 2020 and those registered in the first half of 2021, the impact caused by the ancestral variant of SARS-COV-2 in the first and second waves of the epidemic is being analyzed. According to the INEGI report, in the first semester of 2021, 110,312 additional deaths were registered to those registered during January to June 2020. It is important to highlight that excess deaths in 2020 begin to be registered in epidemiological week 13. For the same reason in the first 26 weeks of 2020, 86,048 excess deaths were accumulated. In the same period of 2021, according to the excess mortality report in Mexico updated to January 3, 2022 84% of the 110,000 excess deaths are associated with COVID-19 and the remaining 16% with other causes. However, it is convenient to wait until October to know the definitive figures of the total number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in Mexico in 2021. For now, the IHME estimates They indicate that in 2021 there were 8% (21,234) more deaths from COVID-19 than in 2020, despite the fact that at least one dose was vaccinated to a significant proportion of the vulnerable population and the prevention measures remained more or less active. mitigation. The foregoing includes the effect of the Delta variant, which caused the third epidemic wave in September 2021, which generated a significant number of deaths.

The impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations is seen in the following table. If the mortality rate by age group reported by INEGI for 2021 is divided by that observed in 2020, the excess risk of dying by age group in 2021 is obtained. The second column of the table shows the excess of the risk of dying from all causes of death and in the third the excess risk only from deaths caused by COVID-19 (see Table 2). Mortality from all causes in the first half of 2021 is higher than in 2020 in all age groups, with the exception of those under 15 years of age. However, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is higher in all age groups. Double from 15 to 55 years, 2.5 times higher risk between 55 and 64 years and 3.5 times higher risk of dying from COVID-19 in adults 65 years and older.

We encourage INEGI to maintain interest and willingness to share preliminary information on causes of death in Mexico. It is always desirable to release the micro-data as this encourages participation in the analysis of the community interested in doing so, although we note that we are still far from this scenario. Hopefully INEGI maintains interest in sharing preliminary reports in the future and it is not just a response to times of pandemic. I am convinced that the community interested in the analysis of mortality and causes of death in Mexico and the world, in addition to feeling included, will make very useful contributions to knowledge.

*The author is a professor at the University of Washington Department of Health Measurement Sciences and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Twitter: @DrRafaelLozano

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