New COVID Variants Reported in MexicoBy Rodrigo Brugada | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 12:30
Mexico is seeing daily COVID-19 cases decrease but this dynamic may change after reports of infections from the Brazilian, UK and Indian variants.
Ever since spring break, there has been a continuous fear of the potential arrival of a third wave but the numbers show that it has yet to come. The country’s official records show a slowdown in the spread of COVID-19. According to Our World in Data, confirmed COVID-19 cases have reduced by 22 percent biweekly. Hospital bed occupation is below 30 percent in every state, as published in Animal Politico. While the slowdown may be due in part to the vaccination effort (Mexico has currently vaccinated around 10 percent of its population with at least one dose), it may also have to do with the fact that at least 42.5 million Mexicans may have been exposed to the virus and generated a subsequent antibody response, according to estimations made by IMSS.
The weekly dynamics in community transmission may change since there have been case reports of infections from the Brazilian, UK and Indian variants, as reported by Infobae and El Pais. The Indian variant has gained a surge in media attention partly due to India’s current surge in cases and partly because of the ominous name “double mutant,” which may give this particular variant an increased potential of transmissibility, as reported by The Scientist. Nonetheless, WHO lists it as a variant of interest, not concern.
On the other hand, both the Brazilian and UK variants are deemed variants of concern. WHO states that this means they have been demonstrated to be associated with an increase in transmissibility or a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, an increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation or a decrease in the effectiveness of public health and social measures or of available diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.
Last month the General Director of Epidemiology of the Health Ministry, José Luis Alomía, raised concerns about the UK and Brazil variants, as reported by Forbes. Also, earlier this week, the General Director for Health Promotion, Ricardo Cortés, stated that the Indian variant is of lesser concern.
In the global scenario, alarms have been raised as these new variants carry the risk of a potential third wave hitting harder than the last two. Moreover, India is a major vaccine producer and since it started seeing the sudden surge in cases, vaccine production and distribution have slowed down, as reported by BBC. Regarding the Brazilian variant, in a March article, BBC reported that it might be twice as contagious. There have also been concerns regarding vaccine efficacy but, as explored in an earlier issue of JAMA, current data suggest that vaccines remain effective at preventing severe disease and the pharmaceutical companies have modified their manufacturing process to better account for these variants. In any case, it remains essential to remember that these variants are still vulnerable to regular prevention practices, such as hand-washing and social distancing measures.