How Will This Third Wave of Infections Impact Hospitals?
Below is a script of the interview of Dr. Carlos Gershenson on El Heraldo Noticias con Jesús Martín Mendoza. The script has been translated and edited for clarity.
Jesus Martin Mendoza (JMM): How will this third wave of infections impact hospitals?
To discuss this topic, Dr. Carlos Gershenson is with us. A researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. And wow, I must tell you, doctor, how it impacted us, how it impacted me personally these data that you made known through social networks. On the increase of the pandemic and the peak that visualizes it towards the middle of August. Nice to greet you, and welcome doctor.
Carlos Gershenson (CG): Thank you, Jesus Martin.
JMM: So, tell us how you made these pandemic calculations, and what we can envision in the short and medium-term.
CG: Yes, well, in the public data of Mexico City. Well, there has been a considerable increase in hospitalizations. As, as mentioned there are already several hospitals that are full. However, we still haven’t reached 30% hospital occupancy.
It seemed that we are doing well. But the problem is that there has been a 6% daily increase in the last few days. And, simply put if this increase continues, in less than 1 month it would be saturated. Let’s say, at this rate, by August 13 the hospitals would already be saturated. That doesn’t rule out that even before that, it could be saturated, so the question is: Are we going to wait until all the hospitals are saturated to do something, or are we going to do something now?
JMM: It’s just that, here the thing is that we are not doing anything, doctor. Well, even the children are being ordered to return in person on August 30. With these models that you have calculated, this calculation in terms of the rate of contagions that you give us on August 13.
Are there conditions to maintain the normality of a green traffic light in different parts of the Mexican Republic?
CG: Not at all, it is terrible that we prefer to close now that we have few cases and more or less can be controlled. Or wait until it’s out of control and either way, as we saw in December. It takes several weeks for cases to start dropping. So, the longer we wait to implement measures that will restrict the spread of the virus.
Well, we are going to take longer to reduce the number of cases. So, it is simply because we are not more cautious. For not changing the strategy, because there is evidence that it can be done better, with examples from other countries. Also, with examples of other countries that are doing the same thing we are doing, which is not a good strategy. Thousands of lives can be saved that will surely be lost in the coming weeks.
JMM: Well, this is an interesting fact. Because, so, if we talk about mismanagement in the pandemic issue. Mexico is not the only one. I mean, have other countries gone through the same decisions, the same bad decisions? Dr. Gershenson.
CG: Yes, that’s right. Let’s say, the other case, would be Brazil, but another case, another bad example is the United Kingdom. That, since they already have a certain vaccination rate. So, they have let the virus spread among young people. Right now, they have a new wave that they’re not even trying to stop. Which is highly irresponsible and unethical. Because they are letting their young people die, their children die.
It is true that it does not affect them as much as the elderly, but it does affect them. The delta variant that is already spreading in our country as well. It can also infect vaccinated people. So, if vaccination helped us to have a very low probability of getting infected. But people stop using masks, this variant is more contagious. So, we are losing what we had already gained.
And so, we are going to be again, as we have been for a year and a half.
JMM: Dr. Gershenson, you are UNAM researchers. And, and the local and national governments then relies on UNAM to buy credibility. In other words, the credibility of these and other investigations carried out by UNAM are not in doubt. Have you already conveyed this concern to the federal government, the secretary of health, and local governments to do something at this time, because if they wait until August 13, it will be more difficult to control the speed of the contagions?
Have you already transmitted it to these authorities?
CG: Yes, let’s say, UNAM has a special commission to deal with COVID and it is led by our experts in epidemiology. Dr. Samuel Ponce de Leon. So yes, recommendations have been issued. Some have been heard, some have not, for various reasons, right? But, let’s say, already after more than a year of pandemic. Well, we can learn from what worked and what didn’t work.
I think it is time to adjust the strategy. Not only with our own experience, but with the experience of other countries.
There are those who say that, well, we must learn to live with the virus. But we see that countries like: New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, and China. Well, they have been able to control the virus very well, and in fact there is no dilemma in that: Oh, so that the economy does not collapse, we are going to open.
It’s the other way around, if your population is dying, your economy is doing worse than if you control the virus quickly. And then, by having few cases, they can be traced and contained, and new outbreaks can be avoided. And, at the moment when there are new outbreaks. Well, it can be handled in a local way, rather than shutting down the whole country.
JMM: Well, Dr. Gershenson. I thank you very much for giving us all this information, the result of your research. In this way, the population is alerted to what can happen if the pertinent measures are not considered. And, of course, local, and federal governments, of what must be done, because we are on time.
Thank you for this information you have provided us, doctor.
CG: Thank you, Jesus Martin.
JMM: All the best. He is Dr. Gershenson, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Making this warning in time. If nothing is done and we reach August 13, hospital occupancy will overflow. It will be more difficult to contain it. For the record, today, here in the Herald, it is being said.