COVID in Peru After a Year and a Half

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Peru’s government announced that the country would be going under a State of Emergency for two weeks as COVID-19 had been found to exist here.

What no one could have expected at the time was that a year and a half later the country would still be under a State of Emergency. People have been wearing masks all that time and things like temperature checks and constant spraying of alcohol on our hands has become a basic part of every day life.

Vaccinations

Months after much of the world began to apply vaccinations and after an extremely serious “second wave” following the Christmas and New Year’s Holiday season exacerbated by the spread of the Brazilian P.1 variant, vaccines began to arrive.

Unlike some places in the world, Peruvians couldn’t get their shots fast enough. As vaccines began to arrive in greater and greater numbers, more and more citizens have been receiving their shots as fast as possible.

For example, last weekend Cusco opened up vaccinations for adolescents to prepare for a reopening of in-person school education. Lines stretched for blocks as over 100,000 vaccinations were administer in three days.

In the week from 6-12 September, over 2 million doses of COVID vaccines were administered across Peru as different regions are applying vaccinations for all different age levels in a remarkable program that has accelerated remarkably.

As of the latest numbers released by the Ministry of Health (Minsa) last night, over 23 million Peruvians (69.7%) have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine. The number of people who are now fully vaccinated has reached 27.8% and continues to rise quickly each day.

Fortunately, vaccine hesitation and the spread of false information barely exists in Peru with the exception of a large contingent of expats living both legally and illegally in places like Cusco’s Sacred Valley where anti-vaccine and anti-mask sentiment continues to contribute to the spread of the deadly virus in some areas.

The results of vaccines and mask-wearing are undeniable based on read data and evidence, but there is still a small minority of uneducated who continue to rely on YouTube and social media for their medical knowledge rather than listening to people who spent their lives studying medicine and science.

Positivity Rates of Testing

Testing in Peru still remains reasonably high, though the numbers each week have dropped. This is likely due to a massive decrease in positive cases resulting in less need to test others who have come into contact with infected individuals (family members, co-workers, etc.).

A lot of people still look at case numbers as an accurate representation of the spread of COVID across a population. The truth is that is probably the worst indicator.

For example, compare a a city of 1 million which conducted random tests of 1000 people and found 800 to be infected with COVID with another similar city that tested 10,000 people and found 1000 positive cases. The first city found 800 cases while the second found 1000 cases. Does that mean that the second city is undergoing higher spread of the virus? Basic math shows that the first city saw 80% of the random tests came back positive while the second city only had 10% positive. Obviously the first city is in far, far worse shape.

Think of positivity rates as a survey of a population. It’s like throwing a large net into a lake to see how many trout live among the fish population. If 25% of the fish pulled in are trout, then it’s clear that there are likely a lot of trout existing among the fish population. If only 5% of the fish pulled in are trout, then likely there aren’t many of that species in the lake.

In general, knowing the positivity rates of COVID testing tells the likelihood of what percentage of the population has COVID. This is especially important as many of those infected are in fact asymptomatic or have symptoms that are so minor that they don’t even know they have COVID.

Thanks to vaccines and mask-wearing, COVID positivity rates in Peru have dropped to very minimal numbers. In the past week, the positivity rate of COVID testing across Peru has dropped to 2.27% (about 1 in 44). About 7 months ago that number had reached a high of 17.27% (nearly 1 in 6).

For comparison, in the past week the United States has a positivity rate of 9.1% (1 in 11 infected). Texas, where I’m originally from and where vaccine and mask opposition has always been high, has a positivity rate of 14.3% over the past week.

Hospitalizations

One of the biggest challenges Peru has had to deal with since the beginning of the pandemic is the capability of the health care system to handle the massive increases in hospitalizations.

Back in March, 2020, Peru had only 100 ICU beds available across the country. Emergency rooms had to turn people away by the hundreds for months and months and the only way a bed opened up was if someone died. The situation was made worse by the fact that many health care workers themselves became sick increasing the shortage of available health professionals.

Obviously, those who require hospitalization and/or ICU care are the most serious cases which usually take a much longer recovery time, but the number of people in hospitals have steadily dropped for many months and recoveries are more common than deaths now.

The high point for COVID hospitalizations came 5 1/2 months ago when the number of people in hospitals reached 15,682. The number of people in ICU care hit a high of 2,685 just over 4 months ago.

The people most likely to be filling hospital beds are the elderly and those people with comorbidities which increase the likelihood of being more severely affected by the virus. From the start, Peru targeted the elderly with vaccinations along with those who had medical conditions that made them more likely to have serious infections.

As a result, the number of people hospitalized has dropped 76.5% since that high number. The number of people occupying ICU beds, the most serious cases, has dropped 61.2% and looks to dip below 1000 people in ICU beds in the next few days for the first time since 6 December, 2020.

Deaths

One of the most positive results of vaccinations has been the precipitous drop in the number of COVID-related deaths.

Back on April 29, the previous week saw an average of 356.7 COVID-related deaths each day! Currently, the past week has seen an average of 16.1 COVID-related deaths each day — a decrease of 95.5%! (By comparison, the number of COVID deaths in the United States has been steadily rising quickly for the past two months.)


One of the favorite talking points of the uneducated troll — I expect they will start soon after this is published — is that Peru’s government is lying about deaths based on the adjustment that was made a few months ago that drastically increased the numbers upward.

Of course, they are simply parroting incorrect news articles that they read without any critical thinking. The fact is that Peru has said all along that the number of reported deaths is not perfectly accurate due to a multitude of factors that the uneducated ignore. Government officials acknowledged the inaccuracies of reporting many, many months before the release of the new numbers when they announced that they would be undertaking a massive study to provide a more accurate number.

Peru has been one of the most open and transparent countries throughout the pandemic in an unprecedented situation that caught the entire world totally unprepared. Anyone who thinks that countries like Brazil has ever been transparent about how COVID is affecting their country is living in a fantasy world. Even the US dealt with a President (Trump) who admitted lying about COVID during his administration and openly advocated for hiding accurate data so things would look better.



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3 thoughts on “COVID in Peru After a Year and a Half”

  1. I appreciate your updates on the COVID virus and the situation here in Peru I also agree with many of your feelings regarding the data and those who seem to choose to accept information not proven.

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