Mexico is rushing the application of booster vaccines to protect its population against omicron. The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has announced that starting next Saturday, January 8, the turn will be for teachers, the first priority group after doctors and adults over 60 years of age. The reinforcements will be made with Moderna, following a new donation from the White House of 2.7 million doses. The president has insisted that the country is prepared for the appearance of the new version of the coronavirus, much more contagious than the previous ones, and trusts that it will not translate into a sudden increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks. “We should not be alarmed, do not instill fear,” he commented in his conference morning of this Tuesday.
The Latin American country closed 2021 with more than 10,000 new covid infections, the highest number in three months, and opened the official case count for 2022 with almost 11,000 positives. In the last data cut on Monday afternoon, Mexico registered 2,877 infections, a much lower number than in previous days although more than 250% higher than the same day last week, when there were only 943 cases. The health authorities of Nuevo León have spoken for a week of a fourth wave of infections and other entities in border and tourist areas, where there has been a rebound in the pandemic, have postponed the return to face-to-face classes scheduled for January 3. “We have to wait, I would not say that there is a fourth wave because there are no hospitalizations,” said López Obrador.
The graphs presented by the authorities are already beginning to reflect an increase in cases. “Ómicron allows us to see a greater contagion, but we see a much lower occupation of beds,” added the Secretary of Health, Jorge Alcocer. The president has acknowledged that hospital admissions have increased in at least three states, although he only referred to the specific case of Mexico City. On the other hand, no mention was made of the advance of the virus in tourist areas such as Baja California Sur, where there is a rate of active cases that is 14 times higher than the national one, or Quintana Roo, where it is almost four times higher than the average for the entire country.
The Mexican government has once again asked the population for reassurance, at a time when several specialists criticize its management of the pandemic. López Obrador has sought to position two messages in his press conference: that omicron has less severe symptoms than the previous variants and that vaccination is enough to cope with it. “The good news is that this variant does not affect the same as the previous one,” emphasized the president, “the good news and the most important is the vaccine, that is what has protected us.”
One of the main criticisms that the Mexican authorities have faced is the delay in the application of booster vaccines and doubts about the capacity of sufficient vaccines for this year. The news of the booster vaccination of teachers seeks to address these questions, but other reports were also given to combat the uncertainty. “We have paid vaccinations until July, everything that is required for reinforcement,” said López Obrador, who took on most of the questions about the pandemic due to the absence of the Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López Gatell, sick with “a cold ”. The head of Foreign Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, added that around 50 million from the Covax mechanism are still expected, which are practically a year late, which has hinted at some annoyance from the Mexican authorities.
It has also been said that in the coming weeks the application of booster vaccines to other population groups will be reported and that the immediate plan is to expand the strategy to people aged 50 to 59 years. In Mexico’s deck of options, it is expected that before the first half of the year the Cuban vaccine Abdala, approved last week, and the Patria vaccine, presented as a Mexican vaccine, although with most of its development in U.S. In April it had been announced that Patria would be ready before the end of 2021.
However, more than three weeks have passed without official statistics showing how many booster vaccines have been applied in Mexico, something that more than twenty Latin American countries already do. In addition, it is stated that the country has a vaccination coverage of 89%, although complete schedules are equated with people with at least one dose of vaccine and the entire population is not taken, as other countries do when reporting their figures and be compared internationally.
Moderna’s donation, a messenger RNA vaccine, the ones that have shown the most effectiveness against omicron, is divided into two shipments. The first of 1.2 million doses will be used to cover the demand for teachers in 16 states and the second, scheduled to arrive no later than January 10, to serve the other half of the territory with 1.5 million dose. The bulk of the teaching staff, estimated at more than three million teachers, had passed almost eight months since they were first vaccinated against COVID.
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