Mexico says global response to new COVID-19 variant is “disproportionate”

Mexico has not registered cases related to the omicron variant of the coronavirus, detected on November 22 in South Africa and considered especially worrisome by experts. This version of covid-19, which according to the first studies presents 30 mutations and a high capacity to evade both natural defenses and those related to vaccines, has set off alarms causing a global shakeup.

Europe has begun to shield itself against the threat posed by this configuration of the virus, while the United Kingdom and Germany have already confirmed four infections. The Mexican authorities consider, however, “disproportionate” the concern regarding the available scientific evidence.

The Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion of the Government, Hugo López-Gatell, recognized this Saturday that “some data suggest that it has greater transmissibility than the previous ones.” However, he stated via Twitter, “it has not been shown to be more virulent or to evade the immune response induced by vaccines.” The official has also highlighted, in line with the approach of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, that “travel restrictions or border closures are not very useful measures: they affect the economy and well-being of the peoples ”.

The Government of Mexico City had indicated hours before that the omicron had not been detected in the capital or in the country. Despite this, the local Health Secretary, Oliva López Arellano, has called to “not lower our guard.” “International health surveillance is maintained, has been maintained throughout this time, and is being reinforced to monitor certain types of flights with more attention,” he pointed out when defending the general measures adopted in the face of the pandemic. The Federal Ministry of Health is updating the “genomic surveillance protocols for the intentional search for said variant” and “if necessary, the sanitary measures taken will be guided by the available scientific evidence,” the agency said in a statement.

López Arellano has emphasized in coincidence with López-Gatell, at the moment there is no evidence of the presence of omicron in the country. “It is important to point out that here the genomic surveillance in the last eight weeks what shows is the 100% predominance of the delta variant,” he pointed out when ensuring that both the scientific working groups and the Health Secretariats of the 32 federal entities of the country are “on alert, monitoring.” “It is a very recent identification, we still cannot say conclusively that it is much more transmissible, but due to the type of mutations we bet that it is and that it has the ability to evade natural immunity and also vaccination mechanisms,” he continued.

The official has made a call to respect the general protection measures, starting with the vaccination campaign, which on Monday will be open to adolescents between 15 and 17 years old, healthy distance and monitoring of infections. “The indicators show that we are in a stable condition,” he said. However, he added that “we must not lower our guard.” This has also been stated by the federal undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López-Gatell, who since the beginning of the health emergency in March 2020 has coordinated communication and the main announcements about covid-19. “We must continue to take care of ourselves with hand washing, the use of face masks, and a healthy distance,” he indicated through Twitter.

To date in Mexico, more than 132 million doses have been applied to more than 76 million people, which represents 85% of the population over 18 years of age. The López Obrador government, which has not yet set a policy for booster doses against the coronavirus, discussed last week with Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau during the summit of North American leaders with the United States and Canada the need to strengthen regional cooperation to face the pandemic. The country is still mostly on a green traffic light, the indicator of low epidemiological risk, although the month of December will begin with five States in yellow, that is, with the restrictions contemplated for moderate risk. All are located in the north and are more exposed to traffic after the reopening of the land border with the United States in early November. They are Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, Chihuahua and Coahuila. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mexico has registered almost four million infections and around 300,000 deaths linked to covid-19, according to official data.

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