Minsa Issues Conflicting Vaccination Numbers

Last night Peru’ Ministry of Health reported two different numbers for the same total at different times during the day.

At 2:55 pm the Ministry of Health published a press release saying that 80.04% of the target population (people age 12 and older) are now vaccinated with two doses. Emphasis was on celebrating the goal that the Minister of Health, Hernando Cevallos, has been predicting for months.

Interestingly, there were no supporting numbers anywhere in the lengthy press release even though reports coming from Minsa on the vaccination progress included detailed numbers every day for months.

There was, however, a lot of back-slapping, prominent mentions of political figures including the President and the Prime Minister, and a number of celebratory photos.

The Ministry of Health (Minsa) closed the year with great progress in the vaccination process against COVID-19. The President of the Republic, Pedro Castillo Terrones, announced that 80.04% of the population aged 12 years and older have received their two doses.

The Head of State made this announcement during the ceremony held at the National Sports Village – Videna, where the “Balance of the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19, in 2021” was presented.

– Minsa Press Release

About three hours later the Ministry of Health released the usual graphic as it has every day for months with updated numbers. As the vaccination rate has been increasing about 1% every 5-7 days, there simply was no way that there could be such a great jump so quickly. That was confirmed by Minsa’s last report for 2021 which said that only 78% of the target population is fully vaccinated. (Remember, this was released after the big celebration led by President Castillo, Prime Minister Vasquez, and Health Minister Cevallos.)

It will be interesting to see if Minsa explains this discrepancy, but, based on their past inclination to completely ignore obvious questions, I don’t expect and explanation.

The most obvious conclusion is that one post was a factual and transparent report on data — something that Minsa has proven to be very competent in reporting throughout the pandemic. The other press release was likely a response to political pressure to “show” that Peru had met it’s goals even if it was apparently a clear lie.

The sad part is that it’s not even necessary.

Reaching 78% is a monumental achievement considering the late start that the country had and all the challenges in acquiring vaccines. Both the Sagasti and Castillo administrations did an amazing job of acquiring vaccines amidst massive world demand. The Ministry of Health and thousands of health workers across the country worked tirelessly to get vaccines in the arms of Peruvians even in the most remote locations.

Why they would celebrate inaccurate figures just two points higher instead of honestly celebrating an achievement that all of Peru should be proud of is beyond me.

I know that, as they always do, skeptics will use this as an excuse to discredit all of Minsa’s reporting even though they have zero knowledge of what Minsa has been reporting for the past 2 ½ months, but the truth is that the press release with the 80.04% figure was likely the result of political pressure and has nothing to do with the work of health workers across the country and Minsa statisticians who have worked hard during the pandemic to gather and report data as accurately and transparently as possible.

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