Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez

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Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez
López-Gatell (cropped).jpg
Deputy Secretary of Prevention and Health Promotion of Mexico
Assumed office
1 December 2018
PresidentAndrés Manuel López Obrador
Preceded byPablo Kuri-Morales
Personal details
Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez

(1969-02-22) February 22, 1969 (age 54)
Mexico City, Mexico
Alma materSchool of Medicine of National Autonomous University of Mexico
Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
SpouseArantxa Colchero (m. 1999; div. 2019)
Scientific career
FieldsEpidemiology, Infectious Disease
InstitutionsSalvador Zubirán National Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition
Secretariat of Health

Hugo López-Gatell is a Mexican epidemiologist, author, and infectious diseases expert who has served as head of the Undersecretariat of Prevention and Health Promotion at the Mexican Secretariat of Health since 2018. Since January 2020, he has also played a major role as a spokesman and one of the lead members of the task force addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico.[1]



López-Gatell attended the School of Medicine of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) graduating in 1994 as Physician-Surgeon. Afterwards, he obtained a master's degree in Medical Sciences at UNAM in 2000, and later a Ph.D degree in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University in 2006.[2][3][4]

As a researcher, he has written and participated in 40 papers, and in 2020 he had been cited an estimated of 6,457 times.[5] In addition to clinical and academic roles, López-Gatell serves as an associate editor for scientific journals as Global Health Action of the Umeå Center for Global Health Research, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, AIDS (official body of the International AIDS Society) and the academic journal of the Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition (INCMNSZ).

Public service[edit]

In 1998 he was appointed as Chief of Resident Doctors at INCMNSZ serving and as Medical Specialist A from 1999 to 2001. From 2013 to 2018 he was Director of Innovation on Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control at Mexican Secretariat of Health. In 2008 he was appointed as deputy general director of Epidemiology at the same secretariat. In that role, he led the creation of the National Epidemiological Surveillance System (Sinave), a re-engineering of the Mexican public health system to improve reporting and detection of epidemiological surveillance.

On December 1, 2018, López-Gatell was appointed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador head of the Undersecretariat of Prevention and Health Promotion in the Secretariat of Health.[6][7] From the beginning of 2020 and after the rising of the COVID-19 pandemic López-Gatell has also applied his research and public service expertise as one of the main strategist and main spokesperson of Mexican Government on the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Mexico. From March 6, 2020, López-Gatell is conducting a daily press conference where he and the Secretariat of Health directives are giving information also explanations about the official strategies and decisions.[1]

The World Health Organization invited López-Gatell to join its team of experts in public health on May 24, 2020.[8]

On June 28, 2021, López-Gatell accused the protesting parents of children with cancer, blockading Mexico City International Airport to highlight ongoing shortages of cancer medications, of being part of an international right-wing campaign to foment a coup against the López Obrador administration.[9] The backlash against López-Gatell saw him accuse economic, business and political interest groups of distorting his comments. He responded saying that felt empathy with the aggrieved parents and would work tirelessly to get obtain the required medicines.[10]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

López-Gatell has been criticized for the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico, with the opposition National Action Party formally accusing him of criminal negligence.[11] He has also been accused of under reporting infections numbers and associated deaths in order to downplay the severity of the pandemic, of misleading the public, for example by the former Minister of Health José Narro Robles[12] and in a New York Times article,[13] and of denying the usefulness of medical masks and staying at home in order to avoid spreading the virus.[14]

While many Mexicans reacted with sympathy to López-Gatell's announcement in February 2021 that he had tested positive for COVID-19, Samuel García Sepúlveda [es], a gubernatorial candidate in Nuevo Leon, called for him to resign,[15] and former president Vicente Fox criticized him on social media.[16]

On March 10, 2021, after still testing positive and admitting he was contagious, López-Gatell was photographed with his girlfriend Rebeca Peralta in a park in Colonia Condesa, Mexico City, without a face mask. The photos quickly went viral on social media. When asked about his actions, López-Gatell complained of greedy corporate media who have a political and economic agenda.[17]

Honors and awards[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez was born on February 22, 1969, in Mexico City. His father, Francisco López-Gatell Trujillo, was a chemist, surgeon and urologist. His mother, Margarita Ramírez Duarte, was a nurse at the Hospital 20 de Noviembre. His paternal grandfather, Francisco López Gatell Comas, was a Spanish military engineer of Jewish descent born in Catalonia in 1897. He opposed the Franco regime and took refuge in France; later he fought against the Nazis in World War II. During the war he ended up in a concentration camp, eventually escaping to Mexico with his wife and three children.[18]

As a young man, Hugo was part of a progressive rock band called Cantera; his companions would later be founding members of La Gusana Ciega and Santa Sabina.[18]

He married and later divorced Arantxa Colchero Aragones.[18]

On February 20, 2021, López-Gatell announced he had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.[19] Originally López-Gatell′s symptoms were described as ″mild″, but on February 24 it was reported that he had a fever and needed supplemental oxygen.[20] He was hospitalized at the Hospital Temporal Citi-Banamex.[21]


  1. ^ a b Morán Breña, Carmen; Lafuente, Javier (26 March 2020). "López-Gatell: "En México queremos un balance entre proteger la salud y a las economías más debilitadas"". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  2. ^ "Dr. Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez". (in Spanish). Government of Mexico. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  3. ^ "Dr. Hugo López Gatell Ramírez Director of Innovation in Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control - Expert with National Institute of Public Health". ExpertFile. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  4. ^ "PMNCH | Government of Mexico". World Health Organization. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  5. ^ "Hugo Lopez-Gatell - Citas de Google Académico". Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  6. ^ "Mexican government to suspend activities from Thursday". Reuters. 26 March 2020. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  7. ^ Da Silva, Chantal (17 March 2020). "Mexico tells citizens to follow "healthy distance" coronavirus guidance—starting next week". Newsweek. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  8. ^ Embargo, Redacción / Sin. "AMLO informa que la ONU pidió a López-Gatell unirse al Grupo de Expertos sanitarios de la OMS". SinEmbargo MX (in Spanish). Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  9. ^ "Hugo López-Gatell: "Esta idea de niños con cáncer sin medicamentos... parte de una campaña casi 'golpista'"". Infobae (in Spanish). June 28, 2021. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  10. ^ "López-Gatell acusa distorsión y dice que tiene empatía con padres de niños con cáncer". Proceso (in Spanish). June 29, 2021. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  11. ^ "¿Cómo será la investigación contra López-Gatell acusado por 'negligencia criminal'?". Heraldo de México (in Spanish). 24 November 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-11-24. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  12. ^ "Polémica en México por acusación de exministro sobre datos de coronavirus". Agencia EFE (in Spanish). 7 May 2020. Archived from the original on 2021-01-30. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  13. ^ Kitroeff, Natalie (2020-12-21). "Mexico Misled Citizens About the Severity of Coronavirus in its Capital". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  14. ^ "After urging people to 'stay home,' Mexico's coronavirus official takes a maskless vacation". Los Angeles Times. 4 January 2021. Retrieved 2021-02-04.
  15. ^ "Desean pronta recuperación a Hugo López-Gatell tras dar positivo a Covid-19... y piden renuncia". El Universal (in Spanish). 20 February 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  16. ^ "Vicente Fox: López-Gatell tiene Covid-19 por "irresponsable y engañador"". El Universal (in Spanish). 20 February 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  17. ^ "Exhiben a López-Gatell de paseo en la Condesa, sin cubrebocas y aún positivo por covid-19". (in Spanish). March 10, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c "EL EPIDEMIÓLOGO MÁS CONOCIDO DE MÉXICO". Prochihuahua (in Spanish). Pro Chihuahua. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  19. ^ Poniatowska, Elena (February 22, 2021). "López-Gatell: mostró la pandemia la gran desigualdad del país". (in Spanish). La Jornada. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  20. ^ "López-Gatell recibe oxígeno a 5 días de contraer Covid-19". El Universal (in Spanish). 24 February 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  21. ^ Cruz Martínez, Ángeles (March 1, 2021). "López-Gatell, hospitalizado". (in Spanish). La Jornada. Retrieved March 1, 2021.