The fifth wave of covid in Mexico: more cases, fewer deaths and greater protection from vaccines:

Children wear face masks at a school in Ciudad Juárez, northern Mexico, on June 23.JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ (REUTERS)

Mexico is experiencing a new rebound in cases of coronavirus. The country has added 17,432 infections in the last 24 hours, the highest number since February, according to official data. The fifth wave of covid-19 it has been marked by a version of the virus that is more easily transmitted but causes milder manifestations of the disease than earlier variants. The positive thing is that, thanks to the immunity acquired by the vaccines, this new peak has not translated into a sudden increase in deaths, barely 24 deaths have been registered in the last day, nor into a considerable rise in hospitalizations.

The increase in infections, however, has put several states in the country on alert. After months in which the pandemic fell to minimal levels and sanitary measures were relaxed to resume economic activities, several regions are considering the possibility of resuming some sanitary measures such as the installation of sanitary filters and surveillance in massive acts. In Durango and San Luis Potosí, for example, it has been decided to make the use of face masks mandatory again.

The increase in cases is again concentrated in the most densely populated areas and with the greatest tourist influx. Baja California Sur ranks first in the highest rate of active infections per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Mexico City and Quintana Roo. In absolute terms, almost one in three patients lives in the capital. This week, a dozen states have decided to end the end of courses in schools in advance due to the epidemiological situation, although only two of them are among those with the highest incidence of the disease: Baja California Sur and Nayarit.

A shipment of 1.2 million Pfizer vaccines arrived this Friday specifically for pediatric patients, adding to more than 800,000 doses that were received. The contract signed with the pharmaceutical company for this population group is for a total of eight million doses. The Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López-Gatellannounced this week that next Monday the vaccination for children five to 11 years old and that this phase will last about three months. Coverage will also continue for those over 12 years of age, as well as for lagging adults. More than 73,000 children between the ages of five and nine have fallen ill with covid since the start of the pandemic, according to official data. The recommendation of the health authorities for those who have become ill is to wait at least 15 days before getting immunized.

The fifth wave of infections has affected the young population more, which is usually more active and has greater exposure. The age group that concentrates the largest number of patients are adults between 18 and 29 years old, followed by those between 30 and 39 years old. The average number of daily cases last week was 8,155 infected people, but it is likely that this week will end with a much higher figure: the average of the previous week was exceeded on Tuesday (more than 13,000 cases), on Wednesday (more than 15,000 cases) and Thursday (more than 16,000 cases). In recent days, long lines have been observed again to take the test.

Hospitalizations are very low. Only 1% of ventilator beds are occupied in intensive care units and 5% in general hospitalization, one of the points that the Government has highlighted to minimize the impact of this new wave. Specialists, however, warn that cases should not be taken lightly given the burden on the health system that long-term covid can cause, as it is grouped into various types of sequelae of the disease. “We can only say that it will be significant and that even vaccines are not going to prevent it from happening,” said epidemiologist Alejandro Macías on his social networks. “Until today, vaccines are useful for not getting seriously ill and not dying; In order not to get sick, you have to take precautions, ”he added.

Subvariants of omicron are expected to BA.4 and BA.5, more contagious than the previous ones, will begin to be detected in the coming days, although there are no official records that they are already present. Mexico has registered more than 5.9 million cases and more than 325,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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