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Mexico and Peru’s COVID lethality

Published by marco on

I was browsing the COVID situation on Corona Zahlen Weltweit yesterday and sorted by %-deaths for the first time. I was quite shocked to see that a sizable country like Mexico had a lethality of 7.6%. Peru is at 9.1%.

 Mexico COVID infection and death rates

The only countries higher than that are the tiny, island nation of Vanuatu (with only 4 infections total), Yemen, Peru, and Sudan. Yemen and Sudan are well-known to be in dire straits six ways from Sunday, with multiple humanitarian crises happening all at once, including war and famine, so, callous as it may sound, it’s no surprise that they would not be able to corral the lethality of COVID-19.

But what happened in Peru and Mexico? Is their medical infrastructure so much work than their neighbors? Does Mexico suffer from its proximity to the United States, which almost certainly provided a constant flow of COVID-19 cases for the last 20 months? Or do Peru and Mexico just lack too much infrastructure to handle COVID?

The article Covid: Why has Peru been so badly hit? on June 1, 2021 (BBC) writes that,

“There’s also been shortage of oxygen needed to treat Covid patients, and the entire country has around 1,600 intensive care unit beds − far less than some neighbouring countries.”

and

“Peru’s vaccination drive has been slow, with less than 4% of the country fully vaccinated.”

and

“About 70% of the employed population in Peru work in the informal sector, which is one of the highest rates in Latin America.”

and

“More than 40% of households in Peru do not have a refrigerator, according to a 2020 government survey. […] “They have to go out to stock up frequently and especially go to the markets,””

and

“Cramped housing makes social distancing harder and allows the virus to spread more easily.”

As for Mexico, it’s likely that it suffers from many of the same social issues as Peru, with informal employment, crowded housing, low vaccination rates, and people forced to leave their homes for basic staples.

The article At 8.8 per 100 cases, Mexico leads in Covid fatality rate among most affected countries on January 4, 2021 (Mexico News Daily) shows that Mexico’s lethality rate due to COVID was worse 10 months ago and has dropped to 7.6% from 8.8%.

These numbers should serve as a dire warning for how COVID is likely to continue tearing through the more impoverished parts of the world (i.e. most of it). It’s unlikely that India is faring as well as it appears to be faring—the combination of the Modi government along with the infrastructure deficiencies it shares with Peru and Mexico indicate that its numbers are quite low so far. The numbers at “Corona Zahlen Weltweit” are pretty good, but they also don’t let you choose a cut-off point. It would even be good to have a few pre-selected cut-off points, like

  • June 1st, 2020 (initial lockdowns over in most countries)
  • January 1st, 2021 (vaccinations begin to be available)
  • June 1st, 2021 (a good number of vaccinations available)

Then you could eliminate data from earlier phases that are no longer relevant going forward. Still, COVID continues to look quite aggressive, especially in places without the most advanced medical infrastructure and living conditions. In particular, the rest of the world doesn’t have access to antivirals, vaccines, hospitals, ICUs, respirators, medical staff, sufficiently sanitary and isolated living conditions, ability to work from home, and so on—all things that we take for granted in the handful of countries that have all of these things. And, looking at Europe, we’re squandering these advantages by using them inefficiently.