Covid-19. Peru recounts its deaths … and becomes the country most affected by the pandemic

Peru wanted to clarify its death toll linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is now done: last Monday, the number of deaths caused by an infection with the virus in this country of 33 million inhabitants rose from 69,000 … to more than 180,000. A new toll of approximately 2.6 times greater than the previous one. But how to explain such an increase?

Only proven infections were counted

This revision of the epidemic figures was suggested to the authorities by the technical council set up in April and composed of Peruvian experts and the World Health Organization (WHO). This council proposed to modify the criteria for recording deaths after having estimated that “the current methodology has limits which lead to an underestimation of the number of deaths from Covid-19”.

For good reason: “Peru is surely one (of the countries, Editor’s note) where the difference is the most important because there were six different calculation systems, with six distinct sources of information”, explains to World César Ugarte-Gil, epidemiologist at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute of the Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia. Until last Sunday were in fact counted only the dead whose infection with Covid-19 was proven “at the time of death”, he specifies.

Thus, thousands of deaths from Covid-19 were not taken into account in the Peruvian official balance sheet. A situation that can be found in several other countries, such as India. The overload of the hospital system has resulted in many deaths at home and especially in front of hospitals. Deaths that were not counted by Indian health authorities.

In Peru are now listed as “dead from Covid-19” people fulfilling seven technical criteria, including proven contamination, but also “probable cases presenting an epidemiological link with a confirmed case” as well as “suspected cases of Covid-19 which present a clinical framework compatible with the disease “.

Nearly 5,700 dead per million inhabitants

By reviewing its death toll on the rise – which now stands at nearly 185,000 – Peru has become the country where the epidemic has claimed the most deaths in proportion to its population, according to John Hopkins University figures. There are now 5,688 dead per million inhabitants. This sad title was previously held by Hungary, which, with 3,047 deaths from Covid-19 per million people, is now far behind Peru.

With this new record, the South American country has also become the fifth most bereaved country in the world behind the United States (595,000 dead), Brazil (467,000 dead), India (338,000 dead). ) and Mexico (228,000 dead).

The death rate linked to the virus has also fallen from 3.5% to 9.4% with the almost tripling of the number of deaths. Concretely, this means that one in ten Peruvians infected with Covid-19 died of the disease.

In particular, a slow motion vaccination campaign. In Peru, only 2.9 million people (or 8.9% of the population) have received at least one dose of vaccine against the virus and only 1.2 million people (3.9% of the population) are fully vaccinated. Not to mention a health system that quickly found itself overwhelmed, specifies in World César Ugarte-Gil: “There was a lack of nurses in intensive care, a large number of health personnel died and there was a shortage of oxygen”, lists the epidemiologist.

Peru is not the only country to have revised its figures upwards. Last December, Russia had also revised its statistics: the official death toll had then tripled.

Sunday elections

Will the revision of the death toll have an impact on the ballot in the presidential election, which is held in Peru on Sunday? Peruvian voters will have to choose between right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori and radical left Pedro Castillo. Both have made the management of the Covid-19 pandemic the heart of their campaign in a country where the economy has also been severely affected by the health crisis.

After years of above-average growth in Latin America, the Peruvian economy contracted by 11.12% in 2020, the worst figure in three decades. Two million Peruvians lost their jobs during the pandemic and three million fell into poverty. A third of the 33 million inhabitants are classified as poor, according to official figures.

Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by

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