Government is still updating old Covid-19 death tallies

Government is still updating old Covid-19 death tallies
Photo: Maarten Zeehandelaar/Shutterstock

In the Health Ministry’s epidemiological report on the Covid-19 pandemic last week, deaths were included that occurred between March 22 and 24, suggesting that the government’s database might still not fully reflect the total coronavirus case and death toll in Brazil.

Since the start of the pandemic, the ministry has had numerous issues with data reporting, going as far as having key daily death figures simply vanishing from their website in early June, which in turn raised questions about the government’s data integrity.

The recent problems with delayed deaths, however, seem to spring from local reports from state health secretaries, which can take as long as three months to conclude that a given death was caused by Covid-19.

On May 14, the government database recorded a single-day record of 943 Covid-19 deaths. On June 27, however, this figure was updated to add 155 new deaths, raising the May 14 count to 1,098. As of July 27, the real date of 4,065 deaths reported by the Health Ministry were still missing. 

Over the past four weeks, as much as 13,311 “new” deaths included in the Health Ministry’s weekly update were delayed reports, highlighting how ineffective the government’s official dataset has been in tracking real-time Covid-19 occurrences.

It was not until July 21 — about four months into the Covid-19 pandemic — that the federal government finally took steps toward gathering full Covid-19 data from state and municipal health secretaries.

Recently, The Brazilian Report covered how Brazil is still nowhere near explaining and tracking its Covid-19 outbreak, despite having four months of data. At the current pace, Brazilian authorities may only be able to fully explain the total Covid-19 death toll months after the pandemic has passed.

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