Wednesday, June 19, 2024

As the coronavirus contagion spreads, Mexico waits for critical ventilators

Mexico is now in the most critical phase of the coronavirus pandemic but lacks at least 10,000 ventilators to respond to it adequately, according to an academic at Mexico City’s Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM).

The federal government declared the commencement of phase three of the pandemic on Tuesday, acknowledging that the number of Covid-19 cases and patients requiring hospitalization is likely to increase rapidly in the coming weeks.

President López Obrador said Sunday that public hospitals will have a total of 13,000 ventilators available for the treatment of coronavirus patients, highlighting that China and the United States have agreed to sell Mexico almost 2,500 of the machines.

However, as things stand, the country only has 5,200 ventilators, says Joaquín Azpiroz Leehan, a biomedical engineering professor at UAM. “At least another 10,000 are needed,” he told the newspaper Milenio.

“According to data from the Health Ministry,” Azpiroz added, Mexico has one ventilator per 22,813 residents whereas Canada has one for every 12,000 people and has “already declared a crisis.”

Ventilators are a key piece of equipment in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Ventilators are a key piece of equipment in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

“That shows the level of scarcity in our country,” he said.

While the government waits for ventilators deliveries from China and the United States that are expected to commence this week, universities and private companies are moving ahead with their own plans to manufacture the vital medical machines.

Researchers at UAM and the National Autonomous University are currently collaborating on the design of a ventilator and expect to have the first 1,000 made by June or July, Milenio reported. The researchers are seeking agreements with companies including Ford and Mabe to manufacture at least 10,000 units.

Thirty-five private companies have already committed to contributing to a project that intends to manufacture 15,000 ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, Enoch Castellanos, president of the National Chamber for Industrial Transformation, said earlier this month, while the National Council of Science and Technology has indicated that it has the capacity to produce up to 500 ventilators per week.

However, as the new coronavirus spreads rapidly in many parts of the country and with hospital admissions expected to increase sharply in May, everyone involved in the manufacture and acquisition of ventilators will be racing against the clock.

It remains to be seen whether Mexico will ultimately have enough of the machines to treat critically-ill Covid-19 patients – as López Obrador has promised – or whether it will face the same shortages as other countries that have had large outbreaks of the disease.

Map of active coronavirus cases. In such cases victims show symptoms and are still considered contagious.
Map of active coronavirus cases. In such cases victims show symptoms and are still considered contagious.

The government’s General Health Council has already published a guide, suggesting that younger Covid-19 patients who need critical care should be prioritized over seniors when medical resources such as ventilators are limited.

Some hospitals in Mexico, including public facilities in Mexico City and Tijuana, are already being stretched to the limit as the number of people requiring medical treatment for Covid-19 continues to increase.

Health Ministry Director of Epidemiology José Luis Alomía reported on Tuesday that the death toll from the disease had increased to 857 from 712 on Monday. The 145 new fatalities represent the biggest single-day increase in the death toll since the first Covid-19 patient died on March 18.

Alomía also said that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had increased by 729 to 9,501. Just under 3,200 cases are currently considered to be active, he said. There are also more than 8,000 suspected cases of the disease across the country.

Just over 37% of people confirmed to have Covid-19 have required hospitalization, a figure that has increased sharply since the end of March when only about 10% of those infected had needed hospital care. More than two-thirds of those who have died after contracting Covid-19 have been men.

Mexico City continues to be the worst-affected entity in the country with 2,857 confirmed cases and 224 deaths. México state ranks second for cases with just over 1,000 while Baja California is second for deaths with 100.

Every state in the country has recorded at least two coronavirus fatalities with more than 50 deaths reported in each of México state, Tabasco, Puebla and Sinaloa.

At the municipal level, Tijuana has recorded the highest number of deaths with 66 followed by Gustavo A. Madero in Mexico City and Culiacán, Sinaloa, where 44 and 36 people, respectively, have lost their lives to the disease, which has now infected almost 2.6 million people around the world and killed just under 180,000, according to official counts.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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