News Article

Mexico's High-Risk Population Makes COVID-19 Measures Urgent

By Jeroen Posma | Sun, 03/29/2020 - 13:59

Around the world, approximately 5 percent of people infected with COVID-19 develop serious illness. In the United States and Mexico, this rate could increase to 7 percent due to the prevalence of obesity and weight problems according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The World Obesity Federation stated that obesity-related conditions appear to worsen the effects of COVID-19, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that people with heart disease and diabetes are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications. In Mexico, almost 75 percent of the population suffers from obesity or weight-related problems, which result in approximately 230,000 deaths in the country each year. As one of the most obese countries in the world, Mexico is expected to see a higher rate of people with severe symptoms of COVID-19 leading to hospitalization and a lower average age of deaths.

The body of an obese person experiences chronic, low-intensity inflammation, which means the body will have to fight on two fronts. Obesity is also a contributing factor to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, hypertension and diabetes, which are all high-risk factors for COVID-19 patients.  Latin Americans are genetically more prone to diabetes and prevalence in Mexico has reached 15 percent of the population. According to the World Diabetes Federation, people with diabetes who are infected with the COVID-19 may see their glycemic control deteriorate. Mexico has not reported a large number of COVID-19 deaths, meaning that the numbers currently lack statistical significance, but to date 60 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Mexico were diabetics. The WHO predicts that half of the seriously ill could die, which indicates that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could have disproportionate consequences in Mexico.

On Saturday, March 28, Mexico’s official stance on how to address the COVID-19 challenge changed. Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gatell called on citizens to stay at home until April 19, though the social isolation period may be extended. He stated that this is Mexico’s “last chance” to prevent the health crisis from becoming unstoppable, as has happened in other countries. “The only way to reduce transmission today is by staying in our houses, doing so on a large scale and for the stipulated one-month period,” López-Gatell said. After reporting 848 confirmed cases and 16 deaths, the Deputy Minister explained that Mexico is going through a phase in which infections are accelerating and that if everyone follows the protocol is it possible to prevent the number of new cases.

Jeroen Posma Jeroen Posma Managing Director