Peru triples official death toll, now world's worst per capita

Peru triples official death toll, now world’s worst per capita

Peru nearly tripled its official death toll from COVID-19 to 180,764 on Monday, following a government review, making it the country with the worst per capita death rate, according to data from the ‘Johns Hopkins University.

Peru was one of the hardest-hit Latin American countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, with its hospitals overcrowded with patients and the demand for oxygen exceeding availability. Experts have long warned that the true death toll is underestimated in official statistics.

The government said it would now update its death toll, which stood at 69,342 on Sunday, in part due to a lack of testing that made it difficult to confirm whether a person had died from the virus or from another cause.

According to data from Johns Hopkins, Hungary has recorded the worst number of COVID-19 deaths per capita, around 300 per 100,000 people. With its updated death toll, Peru now has more than 500 deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 people.


A health worker checks Maria Tafur before giving her the Covid-19 vaccine in Lima, Peru, April 28, 2021. Ernesto Benavides / AFP – Getty Images

“We believe it is our duty to make this updated information public,” Peruvian Prime Minister Violeta Bermudez said at a press conference announcing the outcome of the review.

In Latin America, Brazil has the highest total death toll with more than 450,000 lives lost due to the pandemic. Based on population, however, Peru’s per capita death toll now more than doubles that of Brazil, according to the data.

Peru’s updated figures are in line with so-called excessive death figures, which researchers have used in Peru and other countries to measure possible undercoverage during the pandemic.

Excessive deaths measure the total number of deaths over a period of time and compare it to the same period before the pandemic.