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Since March 25, 2020, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) publishes estimates of COVID-19 infections and deaths for the world every week. In this context, Mexico is one of the few that has state estimates. The latest estimate was published on February 4 and includes data for Mexico until January 31, 2022.

Based on these results, we can say that the Omicron wave continues to develop in the world. In Mexico, transmission has peaked in Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, Nayarit, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, and Sonora, where a decline has begun. Although this incipient drop, it still does not affect the national average. On the other hand, we are still waiting for the number of infected to increase in states where the number of susceptibles is high, as is the case of: Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz. The combination of variants in Chihuahua, Yucatán and Zacatecas will surely slow down the decline of the curve with respect to the rest of the country. By April, Omicron’s wave should have largely subsided. In the absence of a new variant with significant immune escape, transmission from April through late summer should be low. The decline in immunity combined with seasonality implies a return of Omicron transmission later in the year.

Some acts:

  1. With respect to the estimates of two weeks ago, the number of infected nationally decreased 13.5%; the number of cases also fell 9%, however, both hospitalizations and deaths increased. We believe that these increases are largely related to incidental cases.
  2. We estimate that 85% of people in Mexico have been infected at least once as of January 31 and that the contagion rate (Effective R) calculated using cases, hospitalizations and deaths, is greater than 1 in 10 states, mainly located in the center and south of the country. It is very striking that this map is completely opposed to the map that presents the traffic light from February 7 to 20 (see the maps)
  3. Based on data published by GISAID and various national databases, combined with our variant dispersion model, we estimate that the Alpha variant is circulating again in 10 states; that the Beta variant does not circulate in any state; that the Delta and Omicron variants are present in all 32 states and the Gamma variant only in 12 states.
  4. Estimated daily infections in the baseline scenario, which represents what we think is most likely to happen, will drop to 10,340 on June 1, 2022, and daily cases will drop to 290 by the same date. 586,000 total cumulative deaths from COVID-19 are projected for June 1. This represents an additional 15,000 deaths from January 31 to June 1. Daily reported deaths from COVID-19 in the reference scenario will decrease to 0 on June 1, 2022.

Beyond the wave of Omicron, IHME believes that the strategy to manage the epidemic must address three issues.

First of all, be prepared for the appearance of new variants with enough immune escape to give rise to a new wave. This includes maintaining vigilance, expanding production of and access to antivirals, continuing to promote vaccination among the undecided, exploring the development of vaccines that can block transmission (unlike our current vaccines which primarily reduce severe illness and death ) and develop clear messages for the vulnerable population (elderly and with comorbidities) to protect themselves through the use of masks and social distancing if a serious variant arises. In Europe, three patterns have emerged that justify opening the discussion.

the replacement of the BA1 subvariant of Ómicron by BA2 in Denmark has been associated with a prolonged wave of Ómicron. To date, there is no indication that BA2 is more serious than BA1. The substitution of BA1 does imply a greater transmissibility and/or a greater immune escape. The key question in terms of immune escape is whether it is an infection with earlier variants or, indeed, whether one can be infected with BA2 after an infection with BA1. While BA2 may extend the duration of the Omicron wave and the period of pressure on hospitals, it does not seem likely to change the overall outlook for the Omicron wave.

In Northern Ireland and Cyprus they have had secondary increases after an initial spike in Omicron. There are reports of BA2 in Cyprus, but there is insufficient data to confirm that this is the cause of the secondary increase.

In the UK, Greece, and some other places, the decline in cases has halted with a prolonged period of sustained transmission. Most likely, this pattern is Omicronicron waves that start and peak at different times for regions within these countries.

Second, as the wave of Omicron subsides, accelerate the transition of schools, workplaces, and communities to more normal life. Agile responses to future waves of the pandemic will benefit from not prolonging the transition beyond the current phase.

Third, there is most likely a winter surge of Omicron or some other variant due to decreased immunity and winter seasonality. In this regard, hospitals are likely to face a double pressure from influenza and COVID-19 during the winter. Planning for how hospitals will handle this increased demand in terms of staffing, physical infrastructure, and funding must begin well before winter.

*This text is a summary of the “COVID-19 Results Report”, for Mexico on February 4, 2022, which can be consulted in detail at

** The author is a professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Measurement Sciences in Health and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Twitter: @DrRafaelLozano




www.eleconomista.com.mx

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