Covid: Peru more than doubles death toll after review

Aerial view of people walking among tombs during a burial at "Martires 19 de Julio" cemetery on April 17, 2021 in Comas, in the outskirts of Lima, Peru

Getty Images

Peru has more than doubled its Covid death toll following a review, making it the country with the world’s highest death rate per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The official death toll now sits at more than 180,000, up from 69,342.

Prime Minister Violeta Bermudez told reporters that the number was raised on the advice of Peruvian and international experts.

This was in line with so-called excess deaths figures.

Excess deaths are a measure of how many more people are dying than would be expected based on the previous few years.

“We think it is our duty to make public this updated information,” Ms Bermudez said.

Peru has been one of the worst-hit countries in Latin America, resulting in an overstretched healthcare system and a lack of oxygen tanks.

The official number of Covid deaths now stands at 180,764, a huge increase on the previous official figure of 69,342.

In comparison, neighbouring Colombia has registered 88,282 deaths and Bolivia has reported more than 14,000, while Brazil has one of the world’s highest death tolls with more than 460,000.

But Peru now has the highest number of deaths in the world in relation to the size of its population, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Hungary previously had the worst number of deaths per capita at around 300 per 100,000 people. Now Peru stands at more than 500 Covid deaths per 100,000 people.

2px presentational grey line

A true picture emerges

Analysis box by Will Grant, Mexico and Central America correspondent

Peruvians had long suspected they weren’t getting the true picture of the country’s dire coronavirus situation from the government.

The revised figure for Covid-19 related deaths shows they were right to be doubtful. In fact, the government has admitted the real number is more than twice the previous figure.

A government working group of experts, formed to analyse Peru’s data, published the revised figures after establishing broader criteria by which deaths from coronavirus were recorded.

Now that the narrower definition has been abandoned, the country’s per capita death toll is in fact much higher than Brazil’s.

Such a figure coincides more closely to the anecdotal evidence coming from hospitals and intensive care units across the country and with the images of cemeteries struggling to find space for the high number of burials each day.

Meanwhile, the process of vaccination has been slow and beset with difficulties across most of South America.