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In Mexico, 200,000 Official COVID-19 Deaths Likely A Significant Undercount

Mexico officially surpassed 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus Thursday, the third highest toll in the world — after the United States and Brazil. But that number is likely a significant undercount because the country’s testing rate is so low.

On Thursday night, Mexico’s Undersecretary of Health  Hugo López-Gatellcriticized journalists for reporting on the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths.

Calling it an "obsession" and "fondness with focusing on the saddest side of the pandemic," he accused reporters of criticizing the current government for political and economic gain.

But experts say the number of coronavirus deaths in Mexico is probably even higher than what’s been reported because so few people are tested for COVID-19.

Last year, there were more than  326,000 excess deaths in Mexico — about 200,000 more than confirmed COVID-19 deaths during the same time period. And the government has not reported excess mortality numbers from this year, when Mexico experienced its highest official coronavirus death tolls.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.