Up to one-third of Mexicans may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the end of 2020, according to a study of random blood samples taken between February and December. The antibodies were found in 33.5 percent of samples from blood banks and medical laboratory tests in Mexico not related to COVID-19. Levels varied by region, with the highest recorded in the northwest, from Baja California to Chihuahua, at 40.7 percent. The lowest was in the western states вЂ” 26.6 percent. In general, in areas along the border with the United States, this figure was higher, the Associated Press notes.
Victor Borja of the Mexican Social Security Institute said the figure may have increased by an average of 10 percentage points nationwide after a sharp rise in the number of cases in January. But even though the infection rate currently stands at 43.5 percent, Borja stressed that the country is still far from being collectively immune. Authorities have suggested that with nearly 350,000 deaths linked to the virus and about 40 million Mexicans infected, the country's death rate could be just under 1 percent. Moreover, the study found that about 86 percent of those infected developed effective antibodies, and about 14 percent did not have them and may be infected.
Mexican authorities also announced that they had identified three cases of the South African variant on Tuesday. Variants from the UK and Brazil have already been discovered in the country. By early March, the number of COVID-19-related deaths had reached 316,344. However, there are so few tests performed in the country that many people die without being tested. Mexico received about 22.6 million doses of the vaccine and received almost 17 million vaccinations. The vaccination process has reached more than 12 million people, some of whom received two doses. This is a small figure for a country of 126 million people, observers say. Mexico has vaccinated many of its senior citizens and plans to start vaccinating people between the ages of 50 and 59 in May.