COVID still kills, with a surge predicted in July and August 

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Mass COVID-19 testing was underway in Yucatán in the summer of 2021. Photo: File

In the last eight months, 26 people in Yucatán have died battling COVID-19 infections. That’s around three every 30 days. And it’s a reminder that the coronavirus, while not an official health emergency, still haunts us. 

The decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the federal government of Mexico to conclude the health emergency has been misunderstood by the general population, said Dr. Manuel Baeza Bacab, a specialist in clinical immunology.

State health officials reported 399 known cases in mid-May, down from a peak of 2,066 in the first half of December 2022. Officials stopped broadcasting daily numbers earlier in 2022, now issuing data every two weeks.

Infections in Yucatán increased by 43% in recent months, according to Diario de Yucatán. Dr. Baeza Bacab urged the public to remain cautious. He attributed the recent rise in cases to a drop in safety protocols, particularly face masks. 

After a little more than three years, the WHO terminated COVID-19 emergency measures on May 5. On May 9, the federal health authorities in Mexico did the same, ending the decree of March 23, 2020, in which the health emergency associated with COVID-19 was established.

COVID-19 is an endemic disease and not an epidemic one. In other words, it’s here forever, said Baeza Bacab. And if we look at its history, it is likely that we will have increases in summer and winter.”

As we have seen in previous years, he predicted a peak in July and August, but with less intensity.

By now, we know the drill by rote: using face masks in high-risk situations, washing hands, ventilating rooms, staying at home in the case of a respiratory disease, and receiving vaccine boosters when available.

The best preventative is a bivalent vaccine that contains the original strain and the Omicron antigens. Omicron has been the dominant strain for more than a year.

In Yucatan, the predominant sublineages of the virus are the so-called BW.1, BQ.1, and XBB.1.5, which seem to be related to the increase in the number of cases, since we must not forget that although its severity decreased, the virus generated a mechanism more effective at evading the immune system, allowing it to infect people who have previously been infected or vaccinated.

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