Mexico will reach 300,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week, according to official figures, as infections rebound again after the Christmas festivities, boosted by the contagious omicron variant and tourism.
After an increase in cases and deaths in the late summer, Mexico, the fifth country in the world with the most deaths associated with the pandemic, drastically reduced infections towards the fall, as vaccination progressed.
Now, as omicron accelerates infection rates, the trend is reversing: Cases have more than doubled in the last week, spurred by holiday gatherings and tourism, mainly from the United States.
As of Wednesday, Mexico had more than four million confirmed cases and 299,805 deaths.
While Europe and the United States have applied restrictions after reporting records of infections and increases in hospitalizations driven by omicron, the Mexican government has not imposed closures and its president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has said that omicron “does not have the severity” of the delta variant.
“As of December, many people started to go out and there are many who no longer wear face masks,” said Isauro Pérez, a 53-year-old taxi driver in a park in Mexico City.
“I worry a lot about my family because I am a taxi driver and I go out, but I make sure that people bring face masks because if we don’t take care of ourselves, the government will not take care of us,” he added.
“WE DON’T PREPARE”
For Dr. Laurie Ximénez-Fyvie, professor and principal investigator of the molecular genetics laboratory of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the death toll demonstrates the “absolute failure” of the Government.
“When this story is finished, there will be only one variable to measure the success or failure of government strategies to face the pandemic and this is how many people died,” said Ximénez-Fyvie, author of the book “Irreparable damage, the criminal management of the pandemic in Mexico “.
Although López Obrador defends his handling of the pandemic until mid-December Mexico reported 451,864 deaths associated with COVID-19 https://coronavirus.gob.mx/exceso-de-mortalidad-en-mexico, an excess of mortality of 70%.
In addition, Mexico is the country with the highest fatality rate of the 20 nations most affected by the pandemic in the world, according to an analysis by Johns Hopkins University https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality.
For Ximénez-Fyvie and other researchers, the death toll is conservative since not enough tests are done to detect the virus in the country.
According to data from Our World in Data https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-testing, in the last week of 2021 0.12 daily tests were carried out in Mexico for every 1,000 inhabitants compared to 20.6 tests in the United Kingdom. Between July and September, Mexico reached the top of 0.38 tests per day.
Experts say that the fourth wave that looms over the country could hit harder than in the United States or Europe because the country has a lower vaccination rate.
56% of the 126 million citizens have received the complete vaccination scheme against COVID-19 compared to 81% in Spain and 62% in the United States.
Hospitalizations of minors are also growing rapidly in the world by omicron but in Mexico, the government insists that it will not immunize children under 15 years of age, who represent more than a quarter of the country’s population.
“We are not preparing to receive omicron,” declared Ximénez-Fyvie. (Written by Diego Oré; Edited by Ana Isabel Martínez)