A biennial report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCDE) revealed Mexico as the country reporting the highest excess in mortality since the beginning of the pandemic.
Out of OCDE’s 38 members from the Americas, the EU, Asia and Oceania, Mexico had the highest rate of excess mortality with an average 4,456 deaths per million inhabitants, found the 2021 study. Right before Mexico were Poland and the Czech Republic with 3,663 and 3,465 deaths per million inhabitants, respectively. The average rate for member countries is 1,499 deaths. Mexico’s rate increased by 54.8 percent since the last report, largely due to the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the country.
The pandemic raised death rates in all member countries. The report noted 2.5 million additional deaths in those countries, compared to a report five years earlier. Overall, there was a 16 percent increase in deaths between January 2020 and June 2021 among all member countries. New Zealand and Australia saw some of the lowest death rates out of member countries, largely due to the continent’s successful efforts at containing the virus during early stages of the pandemic.
The report also indicated that Mexico and Chile were the nations in Latin America and the Caribbean to receive the pandemic with the least healthy populations due to the high levels of obesity and tobacco consumption.
The high level of mortality was also tied to the success of vaccination campaigns, as at the time of the study’s release Mexico was second-to-last in vaccinating it’s population by percentage. At the time of the report, Mexico had only vaccinated 35.4 percent of its population (it has now fully vaccinated 49 percent of its population) ahead of only Colombia at 33.6 percent. Mexican inhabitants also were largely hit by the lack of ventilators across the country, as a report released last year found that only 20 percent of those who made up the nation’s alarmingly high death rates had access to a ventilator.
Mexico’s health sector was also the hardest hit out of all countries. By the end of 2021, Mexico reported over 278,000 health workers infected and over 4,400 deaths. As those in the frontlines were most often in contact with the virus, health workers made up 8 percent of cases and 2 percent of the deaths in the country. Other countries had higher rates of infection but lower rates of deaths among health workers. For instance, the Netherlands’ health workers had a 10 percent infection rate but only made up 0.2 percent of the deaths.
Mexico’s vaccination rate has increased rapidly since the release of the report, lowering the COVID-19 mortality rate. However, a shortage in medicine admitted by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador threatens to stand in the way of the country’s future health efforts, particularly as this year’s flu season portends to be worse than recent ones and more COVID-19 waves are on their way.