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COVID-19 needs no passport: the interrelationship of the COVID-19 pandemic along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Filosa JN, Botello-Mares A, Goodman-Meza D. COVID-19 needs no passport: the interrelationship of the COVID-19 pandemic along the U.S.-Mexico border. BMC public health. 2022 May 31; 22(1):1081.

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OBJECTIVES: To investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic along the U.S.-Mexico border region and evaluate the relationship of COVID-19 related mortality, socioeconomic status, and vaccination. METHODS: We used indirect standardization to age-adjust mortality rates and calculate standardized mortality ratios [SMR] in both countries. To examine the impact of socioeconomic factors, we calculated the Human Development Index (HDI) by county/municipality. We performed linear regression to understand the relationship between mortality, vaccination, and HDI. We used choropleth maps to visualize the trends seen in the region. RESULTS: Between January 22nd, 2020 and December 1st, 2021, surges of cases and deaths were similar in dyad cities along the U.S.-Mexico border visualizing the interconnectedness of the region. Mortality was higher in U.S. counties along the border compared to the national average (SMR 1.17, 95% CI 1.15-1.19). In Mexico, border counties had a slightly lower mortality to the national average (SMR 0.94, 95% CI 0.93-0.95). In U.S. border states, SMR was shown to negatively correlate with human development index (HDI), a socioeconomic proxy, resulting in a higher SMR in the border region compared to the rest of the counties. Conversely in Mexican border states, there was no association between SMR and HDI. Related to vaccination, U.S. counties along the border were vaccinated at a greater percentage than non-border counties and vaccination was negatively correlated with HDI. In Mexico, states along the border had a higher ratio of vaccinations per person than non-border states. CONCLUSIONS: The U.S.-Mexico border is a divide of incredible importance not only to immigration but as a region with unique social, economic, environmental, and epidemiological factors that impact disease transmission. We investigated how the COVID-19 pandemic followed trends of previously studied diseases in the corridor such as tuberculosis, HIV, and influenza H1N1. These data state how targeted intervention along the U.S.-Mexico border region is a necessity when confronting COVID-19 and have implications for future control of infectious diseases in the region.

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