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COVID-19 Infections are Spiking Among Young Latin Americans: PAHO

By Jorge Ramos Zwanziger | Mon, 05/10/2021 - 16:37

Hospitalizations and deaths among Latin America’s younger population are increasing, with death rates for those between the ages of 18 to 39 doubling between December 2020 and March 2021, reports the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Mexico, however, is seeing confirmed COVID-19 cases drop.

COVID-19 cases seem to be spiking across Latin America, with numbers rising across all age groups. "Adults of all ages – including young people – are getting seriously ill and many of them are dying," warned Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO. Death rates for people between the ages of 40 and 50 quadrupled and tripled for people between 50 and 60. "If infections continue to increase at this rate, we hope that in the next three months the countries of our region will have to maintain and even further increase their (hospital) bed capacity in intensive care units (ICU)," she estimated. However, she did reiterate that the goal is not to invest indefinitely in more care units but to commit to “a comprehensive response based on prevention.”

Is Mexico Following the Trend?

In Mexico, however, official cases have decreased. José Luis Alomía Zegarra, General Director of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Health, said the country is seeing a downward trend in its epidemic curve as cases fell by 10 percent in comparison to the previous week. Alomía explains that Mexico’s active cases represent less than 1 percent of the total estimated cases. Mexico reports an average of 13 new infections per 100,000 people, which represents a 14 percent decrease in infections, reports Reuters.

However, the drop in cases could also be attributed to the lack of testing in Mexico altering the real numbers of COVID-19 spreading, reports MBN. Mexico’s high positivity rate, which remains at around 18 percent, could be caused by underdiagnosis. As of May 2021, Mexico ranks in 162nd place worldwide in testing per million inhabitants, reports Worldometers.

Vaccination Efforts Continue

Last week, Deputy Minister of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, announced that Mexico will start working with Russia’s government to package the Sputnik V, announced the Ministry of Health. The project will allow Laboratorios de Biológicos y Reactivos de México (BIRMEX) to package vaccines produced by the Russian-based Gamaleya Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Packaging of the Sputnik V vaccine in Mexico is expected to start in June, say local authorities. This would be Mexico’s third project to package COVID-19 vaccines, the first two being AstraZeneca and CanSino’s, reports the Ministry of Health. According to López-Gatell, BIRMEX recently signed an agreement with the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) to support the development of the Mexican COVID-19 vaccine ‘Patria,’ explains the Ministry.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
MBN, PAHO, Ministry of Health, Worldometers, Reuters
Photo by:   Parastoo Maleki, Unsplash
Jorge Ramos Zwanziger Jorge Ramos Zwanziger Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst