Wednesday, October 20

The high death toll of Covid in Mexico is attributed to the populist government | Mexico

Mexico’s unwillingness to spend money, do more tests, change course or react to new scientific evidence contributed to the country being one of the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, a report concluded.

Mexico would have had a significantly lower death toll if it had reacted as satisfactorily as the average government, according to the Institute for Global Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, which also published a highly critical report of the United States’ response. United to COVID-19.

Mexico’s health department officially says there have been nearly 210,000 deaths in the country out of 126 million, but because so little testing has been done, Mexico acknowledges that the true figure is closer to 330,000. The United States and Brazil have higher tolls, but also much larger populations.

Officials’ failures to recommend face masks, impose travel restrictions, provide sufficient testing and protective gear, and introduce social distancing measures were among the errors cited by the report, commissioned by the Independent Panel of the World Health Organization. to the Institute for Global Health.

“Key decisions about how to deal with the health crisis were based on unwarranted assumptions, without sufficient risk assessment and judgment,” according to the report.

He cited an excessive concentration of authority and “a government communication campaign that prioritized keeping up appearances and partisan politics over health.”

Hugo López Gatell, the undersecretary of health, who acted as the government’s point man in the pandemic, repeatedly said that wearing masks did not protect people, even after evidence to the contrary accumulated.

“It is not a coincidence that the worst performing countries in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic have populist leaders,” the report said.

“They have common traits, such as minimizing the severity of the condition, discouraging the use of face masks, prioritizing the economy over saving lives, and refusing to join with political opponents to mount a coherent response.”

Neither López-Gatell nor the government have commented on the report.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, prone to austerity, has spoken proudly of not going into debt during the pandemic and not launching economic stimulus programs.

But the report says the pinch of a penny may have played a role in decisions not to expand testing, track cases and acquire PPE quickly.

“From the beginning, health authorities considered efforts to stop or contain the virus to be futile and a waste of scarce resources, and instead advocated for a mitigation approach and preparing the health system to serve the small minority that would require care. medical ”. the report said.

The human cost of the missteps has been staggering. “Every day I cry for my son, for the circumstances” in which he died, said Martha Méndez Guevara, whose son, television sports journalist José “Pepe” Roldán Méndez, 43, died of Covid in June.

Méndez Guevara said he could not judge whether the authorities’ response to the pandemic was sufficient, in part because he was never able to see his son after he was admitted to a government hospital in May. “We don’t know if they did enough for him, because we were not allowed to visit him.”

The report noted that the López Obrador administration had to deal with an already overloaded health system and with “delays by citizens in seeking medical care for fear that once admitted to a hospital, people would contract the disease. disease or die ”.

This meant that many patients came to hospitals in advanced stages of the disease.

“The high prevalence of chronic diseases, combined with suboptimal timeliness and quality of medical care, have likely contributed to a relatively high Covid-19 mortality among the non-elderly population in Mexico,” the report said, referring to the very high levels of obesity and diabetes in Mexico.

That also led to higher mortality among younger patients; 50.6% of all Covid-19 deaths in Mexico occurred among people under 65, compared to 18.7% in the US.

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