A digital rendering of the covid-19 virus. Photo: Fusion Medical Animation/Unsplash

By KELIN DILLON

According to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Mexico could have prevented 190,000 covid-19 related deaths in the nation had it managed the pandemic in a more efficient manner. 

“Mexico’s Response to Covid-19: A Case Study” was carried out by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) by commission from the WHO as part of its worldwide analyzation of the pandemic, and explained that the country’s coronavirus failures were due to an unfortunate concentration of power in the executive branch, led by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), over coronavirus-related decisions.

The report on Mexico highlighted the country’s insufficient deliberation on said decisions as well as the marginalization of institutions responsible for its health policy as the major factors for the nation’s inadequate handling of the pandemic.

The joint study also revealed that many of the preventable 190,000 deaths did not only come from covid complications, but from many other health issues that were not given adequate attention or treatment due to Mexico’s oversaturated and understaffed healthcare system throughout the pandemic, as well as its conversion of hospitals to exclusively treat covid-19 patients, leaving many with other complications without the opportunity for care, resulting in their deaths.

Official numbers from the Mexican Secretariat of Health show the country registered 326,609 total deaths throughout 2020, when the pandemic was at its worst, more than 43 percent higher than expected based on figures from 2018-2019.

Out of 39 countries sampled by the WHO, Mexico ranked fourth in excess mortalities, only lagging behind Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

“Instead of two waves, Mexico has been hit by a single wave that has fluctuated between very high and extreme levels of COVID-19 showing an inability to control transmission,” said Carlos del Río, one of the authors of the study, and pointed out the government’s hesitation “to reestablish containment measures” in the virus’s epicenter, Mexico City, after a large surge of covid cases in November.

Following this surge, the Mexico City area saw more than 15,000 cases a day of coronavirus, more than double the amount from the nation’s initial peak, highlighting the devastating effects of the government’s failure to shut down the city sooner to slow the virus’s spread.

The WHO report also pointed out that 61.2 percent of Mexico’s excess deaths in 2020, though not officially related to a covid-19 diagnosis, could be directly attributed to the disease and the government’s response to the pandemic.

Mexico currently remains as the country with the third highest covid-related death toll in the world, only behind Brazil and the United States.

…April 15, 2021 

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