Mexico to start COVID vaccinations as virus stretches hospitals

Mexico to start COVID vaccinations as virus stretches hospitals
  • Clock-gray 07:28
  • calendar-gray 24 December 2020

Mexico said it will begin inoculating health workers against COVID-19 on Thursday with the arrival of the first vaccines, as the government battles a sharp surge in infections that has pushed hospitals to their limits, APA reports citing reuters.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday vaccinations will begin at hospitals in Mexico City and the northern city of Saltillo, speaking before the first Pfizer vaccines were flown into the capital from Belgium.

“It’s true that we still face a tremendous pandemic, but today is the beginning of the end,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told a news conference at Mexico City’s airport.

He did not specify how many doses arrived in the first batch amid Mexican media reports that it only contained 3,000. His ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lopez Obrador said he wanted the vaccine to be used in additional areas as officials seek to reach workers at nearly 1,000 hospitals treating coronavirus patients nationwide. Senior citizens and people with chronic illnesses are due to be next.

Pfizer’s is the first COVID-19 vaccine to reach Mexico, which has also signed deals for vaccines from other firms.

 

With hospital bed occupancy rates surging, Mexico has put the heavily populated capital and two states into semi-lockdowns to try to prevent the further spread of the virus, while urging residents to avoid holiday gatherings and socializing.

A recent study from researchers at Stanford University and Mexico’s CIDE think tank found Mexico City could breach its hospital capacity in late December and peak in late January.

Last weekend, the Mexico City government sent out a text message saying hospitals were “at the limit.”

Mexico has recorded nearly 1.4 million cases and 119,495 deaths from COVID-19, the fourth highest death toll worldwide.

In Mexico City’s bustling center, banners warned “you are in a high infection area” while a message on loudspeakers urged the public to wear masks and avoid parties.

“The only thing is for us all to be well and get through this year,” street vendor Ricardo Flores said of his family. “There won’t be any Christmas dinner, there won’t be any gifts.”

Gerardo Reyes, an accountant, explained that he had taken precautions to allow his family to celebrate together. “We all got tested to be sure we won’t have any problems,” he said.

Others, especially in Mexico City’s vast informal economy, just hope to scrape by as tighter health restrictions bite.

Fidelina Esperon, a seller of street food, fretted her livelihood could be about to dry up.

“The little I had saved, I’ve already spent it all,” she said.

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