MEXICO CITY — Mexico started its coronavirus vaccination marketing campaign on Thursday, changing into the primary nation in Latin America to take action, and offering a sliver of hope to the inhabitants amid a roaring resurgence of the virus.

The top nurse on the Rubén Leñero hospital in Mexico Metropolis, María Irene Ramírez, 59, was the primary particular person within the nation to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as a part of the federal government’s technique to give attention to well being care employees in December, January and February earlier than shifting on to the older Mexicans thought of most in danger.

“That is the most effective reward that I may have obtained in 2020,” Ms. Ramírez mentioned throughout the ceremony, which was broadcast on nationwide tv. “We’re afraid, however we’ve to maintain going as a result of somebody has to face this combat.”

Latin America has develop into an epicenter of the pandemic, with inequality, a big casual work pressure, densely packed cities and a fragile well being system hindering efforts to cease the unfold of the virus and deal with the sick.

International locations within the area, led by Brazil and Mexico, racked up a few of the world’s highest demise tolls as economies crumbled below the burden of lockdowns and authorities mismanagement.

The primary doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine additionally arrived in Costa Rica in a single day, and Chile obtained its first 10,000 doses on Thursday. The primary 300,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V landed in Buenos Aires, in Argentina, on Thursday morning.

The inoculation effort in Mexico is beginning as a vicious new wave of the virus has packed hospitals and led authorities to name for a lockdown within the capital, Mexico Metropolis, and in 4 different states. Greater than 120,000 folks have died nationwide, though restricted testing means the true rely may very well be a lot larger.

As of mid-November, some 250,000 extra folks than anticipated had died this yr, in keeping with official information, an extra mortality fee that means a far heavier toll.

With widespread mistrust of public establishments, many Mexicans have averted going to the hospital and as an alternative most popular to be handled, and to die, at dwelling, in order that their sickness or their explanation for demise is usually not formally recorded as Covid-19.

The nation’s response to the outbreak has been broadly criticized, with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador refusing to put on a masks in public and persevering with to carry public rallies throughout the nation.

Final week, Mexico Metropolis authorities elevated the capital’s pandemic alert stage to purple, the best standing, triggering a shut down of all however important companies. However the federal authorities had information that ought to have prompted a right away lockdown in early December. As a substitute, it saved the capital open for an extra two weeks.

Hospitalizations nationwide have reached ranges final seen throughout the first peak of the outbreak in the summertime. With 85 % of beds crammed in Mexico Metropolis, in keeping with official figures, docs are begging on social media for residents to remain dwelling.

A examine revealed this week by teachers at Stanford College and Mexico’s Middle for Analysis and Educating in Economics discovered that, at present charges, there was a excessive likelihood that hospital capability within the capital can be outstripped by early January 2021. The examine has not but been peer reviewed.

On Wednesday, authorities mentioned that greater than 300 well being care employees from different states had arrived in Mexico Metropolis to help the capital’s beleaguered docs and nurses.

“Mexico is in unhealthy form,” mentioned Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the World Well being Group, at a information convention in Geneva late final month.

And with Mr. López Obrador’s persistent push for presidency austerity, Mexico stays one of many few nations in Latin America with out significant monetary support for its residents amid an financial downturn that may wipe 9 % from the nation’s financial output.

Given the grim outlook, Mexico has positioned large hope within the vaccine, which can be obtainable freed from cost nationwide. The nation has contracts with each Pfizer and AstraZeneca, in addition to with Chinese language-Canadian agency CanSino. Vaccinations will proceed by way of March 2022.

“We’re going to assure this well being care proper, with vaccines for all Mexicans,” Mr. López Obrador mentioned at a information convention on Thursday. “We have already got the finances, with the cash to buy all of the doses which might be required.”

Authorities have mentioned that the nation would obtain 250,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month, with inoculations to start in Mexico Metropolis and the neighboring State of Mexico, which has additionally been laborious hit by the pandemic.

Some 3,000 doses arrived from Belgium to Mexico Metropolis on Wednesday, with one other 50,000 set arrive subsequent week, the federal government mentioned, with the intention of getting 1.4 million doses for well being employees by January and a complete of 34 million Pfizer doses by December 2021.

“We’re nonetheless dealing with an incredible pandemic, the worst we’ve ever skilled, however in the present day is the start of the tip,” mentioned Marcelo Ebrard, the nation’s overseas secretary, at a information convention after the primary doses arrived in Mexico on Wednesday. “Right now we will clearly see that we’re going to defeat it, this virus that has come to rework our lives.”

Public well being specialists cautioned that, regardless of the fanfare encompass the primary vaccination, there can be little sensible impression on the hovering charges of an infection and demise till many extra doses had been broadly obtainable.

“It’s very symbolic,” mentioned Dr. Carlos Magis Rodríguez, a doctor and professor of public well being at Mexico’s Nationwide Autonomous College. “There needs to be a logic” to the vaccination marketing campaign, he mentioned, “however till now we haven’t seen that plan.”

Ready in line at a medical provide retailer to purchase oxygen for his father, who was sick at dwelling with Covid-19, Luís Olivares, 40, mentioned that whereas he wished the vaccine had come earlier, it’s arrival, in the end, “provides me hope for a lot of.”

Others had been much less optimistic.

Álvaro García, 41, was additionally ready to choose up oxygen tanks for his spouse, whose autoimmune illness has debilitated her lungs. Given his spouse’s delicate situation, Mr. García nervous significantly concerning the unfold of the virus. And the vaccine? It was too little, too late, he mentioned.

“There are already so many lifeless,” Mr. García mentioned. “There’s no approach to change that.”

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