Mexico needs to spend at least 6.4 billion pesos (US $283.4 million) on Covid-19 testing kits in order to have the capacity to reach the average testing rate of the 37 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a Mexico City think tank.
The Center of Economic and Budget Research (CIEP) said in a report that level of investment is needed just to buy the testing kits. Additional money would be required to perform the tests and process them in laboratories.
The CIEP noted that Mexico has the lowest testing rate among OECD nations.
According to data published by the German statistics portal Statista, 6,372 Covid-19 tests per 1 million inhabitants have been performed in Mexico as of Monday.
The per capita testing rate in the United Kingdom is more than 30 times higher than Mexico’s rate while that of the United States is about 23 times higher. The testing rates in Spain, Italy and Germany are 20, 16 and 13 times higher.
Testing rates in the two other Latin American OECD countries, Chile and Colombia, are 11 and four times higher, respectively, than that of Mexico.
The CIEP report said the federal government’s “immediate policy response” to the coronavirus crisis should focus on ensuring that there are enough kits to test widely.
But Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, Mexico’s coronavirus czar, has said that the government is not interested in testing Mexicans en masse because doing so would be “useless, impracticable and very expensive.”
Despite its low testing rate, Mexico has recorded more confirmed Covid-19 cases than all but six other countries in the world.
The federal Health Ministry reported on Sunday that Mexico’s accumulated case tally had increased to 344,224 with 5,311 new cases registered.
Only the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa and Peru have recorded more confirmed cases, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.
Sunday’s spike in case numbers came a day after the Health Ministry reported that it had registered 7,615 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day total reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
Just under 9% of the more than 344,000 confirmed cases – 30,478 – are considered active.
Data presented at Sunday night’s coronavirus press briefing showed that 821,922 Covid-19 tests have been performed in Mexico, of which 394,156 came back negative. The results of 83,542 tests are not yet known and are thus considered suspected cases.
Based on known results, the positivity rate in Mexico is 47%, meaning that almost one in every two people tested has been confirmed to have Covid-19. The positivity rate is much higher than most other countries because Mexico is focusing its testing efforts on people who have coronavirus-like symptoms.
The Health Ministry also reported on Sunday that it had registered 296 additional Covid-19 deaths, lifting Mexico’s death toll to 29,184.
Mexico ranks fourth in the world for Covid-19 deaths behind the United States, Brazil and the United Kingdom. Based on confirmed cases and deaths, Mexico’s fatality rate is 11.4 per 100 cases, much higher than the global rate of 4.2.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Mexico has the 16th highest mortality rate in the world with 31 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Chile, the United States and Brazil are among the countries with higher mortality rates than Mexico.