The less virulent fifth wave of COVID-19; but preventive measures must be maintained

Specialists considered that the most severe phase of the disease has passed; nevertheless, the vaccination schedule should be continued, especially for children, and the monitoring of omicron.

The less virulent fifth wave of COVID-19; but preventive measures must be maintained
Where are we going with the fifth wave of contagions? Photo: UNAM

Two and a half years after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fifth wave is advancing in Mexico, less virulent than the previous ones, but still with a large number of cases, which is why vaccination schedules should be kept complete and preventive measures such as the use of masks, hand washing and avoiding crowds, even in open spaces, recommended UNAM experts.

At this stage there is less mortality and hospitalizations; however, there are still some risks associated with the high rate of diabetes present in the country and with atmospheric pollution, especially in cities like Mexico City where the highest number of cases are concentrated, warned the coordinator of the University Commission for the Attention of the Coronavirus Emergency, Samuel Ponce de León Rosales.

During the distance press conference "Where are we going with the fifth wave of contagions?", the also head of the University Program for Health Research (PUIS) of the UNAM made a count on COVID-19 in the world: it is estimated that approximately 20 million people have died, but it could reach up to 26 million.

"There are 550 million cases officially counted around the world, but of course, there are many more and the figure could be multiplied by 10 without exaggeration. In addition, an extraordinary amount of vaccines have been applied, more than 11 billion doses, which represents a spectacular epic," he said.

In Mexico, we are in an accelerated phase of the growth of the fifth wave, and surely everyone has acquaintances who have been infected despite vaccination. "We hope it will have less morbidity and mortality, which does not mean that the number of deaths will not increase because there will be many cases of infection".

In Mexico, there are complicated situations, such as the high prevalence of diabetes and the risk of severe COVID-19 with high contamination rates, for which she called for prevention.

Speaking, the professor of the Faculty of Medicine (FM) and coordinator of the Diagnostic Clinics for Coronavirus, Yolanda López Vidal, detailed that of the patients assessed at the COVID-19 UNAM Clinic from February to June 2022, 489 reported being asymptomatic (28.5 percent) and 1,242 (71.75 percent) manifested at least one symptom, which was expressed in an average of 3.86 days.

"There is a three to four times greater probability of obtaining a positive for the disease when at least one symptom is present compared to when none is present," she commented.

The less virulent fifth wave of COVID-19

Omicron appears to be less virulent than previous variants, but this will not necessarily be the case in the future. "There is no reason to be sure that future variants and subvariants will follow these trends, so it would be wise to continue to monitor all of them and those that appear."

These are comorbidity factors: hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and smoking. "They present by far the highest number of risks associated with this disease." In addition, pollution perpetuates the inflammatory process of the disease and makes it permanent, she warned.

In turn, the academic of the FM and member of the University Commission for the Attention of the Coronavirus Emergency, Mauricio Rodríguez Álvarez, referred to the vaccination that in this fifth wave has achieved a very good coverage, above 80 percent.

"There has been a very important advance in vaccination, almost 210 million doses of vaccine against COVID-19 have been given in our country. As of this week, vaccination for infants from 5 to 11 years of age, which was one of the groups least affected by the pandemic, is being covered," he commented.

There is an important protection thanks to the biologics, which has been proven by the waves of deaths, which have been reduced since the third one. "In addition, we have a coverage of the groups that have been most affected of over 80 percent," he added. We are currently in a transition period towards a more stable pandemic stage, with better diagnosis, vaccination, and patient management.

The specialists reiterated that Mexico City continues to be the core of the pandemic and there is still an accelerated transmission of infections, so precautions should be maintained, including ventilation in enclosed spaces, correct use of masks, maintaining hygiene measures, and having a complete vaccination schedule.