Deaths in Mexico last year were 52 per cent higher than in previous years, putting the rate of excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic well above that in some countries seen as suffering the worst outbreaks in the world, including the US, UK and Brazil. New official data showed Mexico has registered 977,081 deaths since March 2020, compared with an expected 641,556 for the same period based on the 2015-19 death tolls. Since the start of the epidemic, Mexico has officially confirmed more than 2m cases and almost 180,000 deaths from Covid-19.

Total so-called excess deaths per million in Mexico last year were 2,602 — 52 percent higher than 1,713 in the US and nearly twice as high as Brazil’s 1,047, according to Eugenio Sånchez, a Mexican statistician who has examined world mortality data compiled by Israeli economist Ariel Karlinsky and Russian researcher Dmitry Kobak. Compared with the UK, Mexico’s toll is 75 percent higher.

Peru was the world’s worst-hit nation, according to that data, and Ecuador and Bolivia have also been hard hit in terms of excess deaths during the pandemic, underscoring virus’ heavy human toll on Latin America. The tally of excess deaths in Mexico has called into question whether its largely handsoff approach was the right one. But Hugo L6pez-Gatell, Mexico’s coronavirus tsar, told the Financial Times in an interview that his “conscience is very clear”.

“We all agree that excess mortality in 2020 compared with previous years is explained by Covid, directly or indirectly,” L6pez-Gatell said.