CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Mexico has reached 158,074 confirmed deaths from Covid-19 to end January, which now makes it the country with the world’s third-highest pandemic fatality total.
However, Mexico has an extremely low rate of testing, and estimates of excess deaths suggest the real toll to date is well over 195,000.
As of Sunday, the country also recorded 1.85 million total confirmed infections.
Ciudad Juarez has recorded a total of 2,530 deaths to date and 27,822 cases. Across the state of Chihuahua, a total of 4,683 deaths and 50,281 cases had been reported as of Sunday.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tested positive for Covid-19 on Jan. 24, and continues to receive treatment at his apartment in the colonial-era National Palace, where he also has offices.
He posted a video of himself walking slowly through his offices as this past week drew to a close. He talked for about 13 minutes straight, saying he is recovering.
López Obrador has not been holding his famous, hours-long daily press conferences for the first time since he took office on Dec. 1, 2018, and he evidently misses the opportunity to talk.
The president, who has been in isolation since testing positive, said: “The doctors tell me I am getting through the critical stage. I am doing well.”
López Obrador said that Mexico will import the AstraZeneca vaccine from India and said that the government expects China’s CanSino vaccine to submit test results soon.
Along with Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, he said, Mexico expects to have 6 million doses of various vaccines by the end of February and 12 million in March.
He said that could allow all elderly people in Mexico to get at least one shot. So far, Mexico has been using only the Pfizer vaccine and has been administering second doses as scheduled.
However, Mexico has only about 760,000 Pfizer doses, about half the amount it needs just to vaccinate front-line health personnel.
Mexico is placing its hopes on Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. However, Russia has not yet publicly presented the results of Phase 3 testing, which would yield data on how effective it is.
Nevertheless, Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said this past week that Mexico is close to approving the Sputnik vaccine, based on confidential documents he was allowed to see by Argentina, where the shot is already being administered.
That has caused a storm of criticism in Mexico, with some saying the vaccine shouldn’t be approved or used until that data is released.
López-Gatell responded by claiming the critics were anti-vaccine, and accused them of doing “a lot of damage.”
“They have started to discredit vaccines in a completely irrational manner, with no evidence,” López-Gatell said.
But critics say López-Gatell is the one with a lack of evidence.
“They have made up the idea that I am anti-vaccine, because I caught them,” wrote Sen. Lilly Téllez of the conservative opposition National Action Party. “I do want vaccines, but ones that have been approved by the World Health Organization and the international scientific community.”