Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Health minister warns of possible third wave of Covid, assures vaccines are safe

Mexico could see a third wave of the coronavirus, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell warned Thursday as the country’s official Covid death toll approached 200,000.

“There could be a third wave, a lot of countries already had three waves, we’ve only had two until now. There are countries that have already had four waves,” he told the Health Ministry’s Thursday night coronavirus press briefing.

Mexico had a sustained first wave of Covid that peaked in the middle of last year and a worse second wave in late 2020 and early 2021.

López-Gatell said that case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths have been on the wane for six weeks but could spike again.

Virus mitigation measures cannot be relaxed until three-quarters of the population have immunity to Covid through infection or vaccination, he said.

Although the fierce second wave that afflicted the country in December and January has receded, Mexico continues to record thousands of new coronavirus cases and hundreds of Covid deaths every day.

The Health Ministry reported 6,726 new cases on Thursday, pushing the accumulated tally to 2.18 million, and 698 fatalities, lifting the official death toll to 196,606.

About 3.4% of the Mexican population has been vaccinated with at least one shot while 0.5% of the country’s 126 million citizens have received two. About 4.9 million vaccine doses had been administered by Thursday night, according to Health Ministry data.

López-Gatell said the government’s vaccination program won’t conclude until 2022 but estimated that up to 50% of the population already has antibodies against Covid due to infection.

(A group of National Autonomous University researchers estimates that the real number of Mexicans who have had Covid could be as high as 59 million, a figure that accounts for almost half of the country’s population.)

The deputy minister said that once 75% of the population has immunity via infection or vaccination, transmission of the coronavirus will be improbable.

López-Gatell sought to allay fears about getting an anti-Covid jab, saying there is no increased risk of adverse reactions for people with existing medical conditions. There is, however, a risk of adverse reactions among people with a history of severe allergies who receive the Pfizer shot, he said.

They should be inoculated with one of the other vaccines, López-Gatell said.

Mexico has so far used the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Sputnik V vaccines and is expected to start administering doses of China’s CanSino Biologics shot soon.

López-Gatell noted that the World Health Organization has indicated its support for continued use of the AstraZeneca vaccine – its use has been suspended by some European countries while they investigate the development of blood clots among a small number of recipients – and said that Mexico is in talks to acquire doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Janssen vaccine.

He also said Mexico will receive shipments of AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines via the intergovernmental Covax initiative.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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