The federal government’s management of the coronavirus pandemic has been criminal in its negligence, according to a new book by a doctor and National Autonomous University (UNAM) academic.
Un daño irreparable: La criminal gestión de la pandemic en México (Irreparable Damage: The Criminal Management of the Pandemic in Mexico) by Dr. Laurie Ann Ximénez-Fyvie, director of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory at UNAM, takes aim at the federal government coronavirus strategy led by Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell.
Ximénez-Fyvie, a Harvard University-trained doctor in medical sciences, criticizes the coronavirus response in a range of areas, asserting that the government responded slowly at the start of the pandemic and failed to implement the required mitigation measures. She also accuses the government of not testing enough, not being a good advocate for face masks and giving citizens poor advice about when to seek medical treatment if they or a family member becomes ill with Covid-19.
“None of what has happened was inevitable,” Ximénez-Fyvie wrote, referring to Mexico’s high coronavirus case tally and Covid-19 death toll. (The former is currently just under 1.8 million while the latter is 152,016).
“This hasn’t been an unpredictable or unfathomable event. The results we are living through today are the direct consequence of the decisions that have been taken to confront the problem.”
Whereas countries like Vietnam and Rwanda implemented strict lockdowns and closed their borders early in the pandemic when they had few cases, Mexico failed to do so, Ximénez-Fyvie wrote.
She contended that Mexico has been unable to cut coronavirus transmission chains because it hasn’t detected cases, especially asymptomatic ones, in a timely manner via widespread testing. The low testing rate – Mexico has only tested about 31 people per 1,000 inhabitants – has prevented authorities from understanding how the pandemic is behaving here, Ximénez-Fyvie argued.
“In Mexico, a supposedly democratic country, it has been impossible to have trustworthy statistics,” she wrote.
The UNAM academic took aim at López-Gatell for downplaying the effectiveness of face masks in stopping the spread of the virus, writing that his remarks have contributed to the worsening of the pandemic. She condemned the government for advising people not to go to hospital until their Covid-19 symptoms are serious.
“It was said not to go to hospital until the patient felt very sick. That was conducive to the spreading of infections [in people’s homes] and upon arriving at the hospital it was too late [in many cases],” Ximénez-Fyvie wrote.
In a radio interview, the doctor charged that López-Gatell, a Johns Hopkins University-trained epidemiologist, has knowingly mismanaged the pandemic response.
“He’s not ignorant, on the contrary he’s intelligent. … It’s not a mistake due to a lack of information but rather of a person who has taken a conscious decision not to do things as they should be done,” she told Radio Formula.
With regard to her book, Ximénez-Fyvie said that its intention is to serve as a testimony of what has happened since the coronavirus was first detected here almost a year ago.
“I don’t have hope that there will eventually be accountability but I do believe that there must be an objective record of what is happening, a record of why so many people have lost their lives in less than a year,” she said.
“The damage that is done is irreparable,” Ximénez-Fyvie said, arguing that the impact could have been much less had the government managed it better.
“It’s damage that vaccination won’t repair,” she added.
In a recent Twitter post, the academic said that in writing her book she “chose not to be indifferent to the pain of others and assume the immense responsibility of raising my voice in favor of health and life.”
“This [book] is my grain of sand. It’s too late for those who have already departed but there are a lot of lives left to save. The course [of managing the pandemic] has to be corrected.”
Un daño irreparable is available as an e-book now and will be in bookstores across the country in the coming days.