By KELIN DILLON
Figures from Mexico’s Secretariat of Health (SSA) revealed that between 45 and 50 percent of the Mexican population have already contracted covid-19, according to a new study conducted between the National Institute of Public Health and the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
“We estimate that 47 percent of the people who live in Mexico have been infected by SARS-CoV- 2 up until May 10,” said the IHME report.
A surge in infections was expected in the country following the packed Easter vacations, but the increase never materialized, which specialists now say is because of such a high percentage of the population carrying antibodies against covid-19.
“In Mexico, 91 percent of people say they would accept or likely accept a vaccine for covid-19. In our current baseline scenario, we expect 84 million people to be vaccinated by Sept. 1,” continued the report, which would put Mexico’s population immunity at 70 percent,
However, as pointed out by public health official Xavier Tello, despite vaccination supposedly opening up to all those above the age of 18 by October, reaching 84 million vaccinated in the population would require Mexico to vaccinate 500,000 people a day. Currently, the country has only vaccinated 12 percent of its population, making the September estimate potentially over-optimistic unless the vaccination approach is dramatically increased.
“Hopefully, this happens to generate greater immunity toward winter, but even with the vaccinated population we cannot ignore other prevention measures, such as the use of face masks, especially since we do not know how long immunity from vaccines lasts,” said Tello.
Mexican Undersecretary of Health Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez echoed a similar timeline as the IHME for the country’s herd immunity, pinpointing September as when 75 percent of the population should have antibodies against coronavirus.
“Herd immunity is called the situation in which the population of a country already has a sufficient number of people who have immunity. For a virus like SARS-CoV-2, three-quarters are required to have immunity, either because we have contracted covid or because we received the vaccine,” said López-Gatell.
However, the health official’s figures failed to take into account that antibodies acquired from contracting the virus reduce rapidly over time, making that segment of the population vulnerable to acquiring the disease again and eliminating them from contributing to herd immunity.