One year after the irruption of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic that generates the COVID-19 diseaseMany countries that have not yet recovered from the first wave of infections are already experiencing a second and expect a third in a few months, in a world in which there are more than 94 million infected and 2 million dead.
In this reality, many nations had to face tough challenges to combat the onslaught of the virus that did not distinguish territories, geographical regions or economic capacities.
While Argentina today ranks 12th in countries with the highest number of infected (1.7 million people) since the beginning of the pandemic (months ago it was ranked 7), if we take into account the statistics of deaths per million inhabitants, our country is ranked number 24, with 994 deaths per million inhabitants, according to University data Johns Hopkins and the world statistics site Worldometers. That means that developed countries such as Belgium (1747), Italy (1346), United Kingdom (1282), United States (1203), Spain (1140), France (1070), or Switzerland (995), surpass us.
And regarding the virus lethality, that is, the number of people who lose their lives due to COVID-19, divided among those who have been identified as having the disease, our country registers 2.6%, the same as the United Kingdom and compared to 3.5 for Italy, 3.2 for Australia, 3 for Belgium, 2.4 for Spain and Italy.
To analyze this hard data, Infobae consulted a group of professionals specialized in statistics who left their visions and perspectives on the evolution and impact of the virus in the world and how the different countries responded based on the latest statistics mentioned.
“In order to understand the spread of the coronavirus in the world, in the absence of an effective treatment or a massive amount of vaccines applied that generates group immunity, social behavior prevails. And it is there where the culture of each country and how each society behaves matters and defines how severely the COVID-19 disease will hit. For example, Orientals wore chinstraps long before this pandemic. And we should have learned to use them. And if we don’t, it’s not bad that we are. It is a cultural issue. There are certain behaviors of ours that are very different from the oriental ones and the behavioral response, in this case Faced with the threat of the virus, having a society as a whole will be consistent with its customs″ Explained the physicist and researcher at Conicet, Jorge Aliaga.
And I add: “One of the answers to determine why Argentina has lower COVID-19 fatality figures than several countries in the world or large cities like New York, for example, is that it managed to incorporate more beds per inhabitant during the pandemic, which did not happen in several European cities, for example. There were countries that, because they did not make quick decisions, saw their health systems collapse. Here the doctors did not have to decide who should have a respirator or not. That happened in New York and in several European cities ”.
Another answer that we can find mentioned by the data expert, has to do with the people most vulnerable to the virus, which are the elderly. The average death in Argentina from COVID-19 is 74 years. And according to the data table, our country has only 11% of the population over 64 years of age, well below Spain (20%), Germany (22%), Italy (23%), France (20%), Japan (28%), the Netherlands (20%), or the Scandinavians Finland (22%), Norway (17%) and Sweden (20). “We can find a clear example when last April contagion in the villages soared in Buenos Aires. Particularly in Villa 31, 53% had had the disease. Why were there not thousands of deaths? Because the age population was mostly young. There weren’t many older adults. For this reason, it is also important to study which is the most vulnerable population for this type of virus ”, Aliaga pointed out.
“Taking a critical look, we can point out that the National Government made certain mistakes in the health area. In particular, not understanding or understanding too late who is contagious and how. And not having promoted their effective isolation. It gave the feeling of being 2 or 3 days behind the people already infected, and for a virus of these characteristics, due to its rapid spread, it was too late. The massive testing strategy that was criticized so much for its lack or scarce tests, carries an error which is to assume that just testing is enough. In addition to testing, you have to track and isolate people. Just by recording reality, you don’t change it. Then you have to take the data and do health policy such as tracing and isolation. You have to work from the index case. If we have zero testing capacity and you assume that everyone who has potentially COVID-19 must be isolated, they will not increase the contagion. It is better to do that than a strict quarantine ”, recalled the specialist.
And delving into things that were not done well, he indicated: “Another mistake made by Argentina was that it minimized the impact of repatriating thousands of Argentines around the world. When they arrived in Ezeiza they were given the recommendation to stay at home, but we know that much was not accomplished. Finally, the Government defined in recent days the parameters of night closings and estimated that the incidence of infections does not exceed 1.2. When it should have been 1. If you assume that up to 1.2 is fine, you have a virus growth of 20%. I think A more manageable and compatible situation was sought so as not to cancel vacations and close tourism in the country this summer”.
Rodrigo Quiroga, doctor in Chemical Sciences, specialist in bioinformatics, researcher at Conicet and professor at the National University of Córdoba, Infobae: “To determine the lethality of the virus, you have to take the number of deaths and divide it by the cases detected. Therefore, lethality shows us how well it is tested in a country or region. The number of deaths from real infected is more or less constant, although it may vary slightly. We observe that the mortality per million inhabitants of various European countries with respect to Argentina is equal or greater. This depends on the prevalence, that is, the percentage of the population that is infected and the age structure of that country.. In a society with a greater number of older adults, as well as the same number of infections, a greater number of deaths are expected ”.
“There were countries that quickly controlled them when they had outbreaks. They used short measures, based on tests, traces and isolations. With hard and well complied quarantines. That happened in South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. In addition, we saw nations that suffered from the SARS and MERS coronaviruses years ago and were able to incorporate responsible corporate behaviors that were effective by having fewer cases of COVID-19. The great problem was the West. These societies had trouble controlling viral circulation. In the European summer almost all cares were left behind. There was a massive relaxation of quarantine and care measures. And we see the same thing today in South America ”, said the specialist.
And he analyzed: “Regarding why the virus hit so much several developed countries, one answer is that the financial resources allow you to develop testing or diagnostic capacity. But that does not solve the pandemic. It must be accompanied by tracking and isolation. And of course the responsibility of society to adopt responsible behaviors of distancing, washing hands, not being in mass meetings indoors or outdoors and the use of a mask. It is important to emphasize that the solution to the pandemic must be collective, not individual ”.
Consulted by Infobae, Ernest Resnik, an Argentine molecular biologist and biotechnologist who works in the development of monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 from the United States, expressed his opinion: “I think that at this point, The pandemic is divided in terms of countries into two types of nations: the open ones that had the epidemic written by tourism and foreign trade, For example, in Europe and the United States, which received thousands of infected and those who chose to close their borders or limit the entry of people to the minimum expression from the outset. Paradoxically Argentina was in the group of countries most exposed to having the virus, including according to the site EpiRisk which measures how epidemics would move, had our country as the number one destination when it came to receiving SARS-CoV-2, the first recipient of the disease in the region. Buenos Aires was above New York. Spain in February and March 2020 was the global epicenter of the pandemic and these cases migrated to Argentina”.
“The other piece of information that emerges from epidemics is that in open societies with movement, diseases and / or viruses move from their place of origin rapidly. For example, as happened in Belgium, Italy, France, Holland, Germany, where the curves have been essentially the same. The same epidemic beginnings were in the same places, as it happened in the United States, where it began in the East, then to the South and then to the Southwest and finally it went to the Central West, that is to say, it occurred by geographical places ” , he specified. For Resnik, this phenomenon was also seen in Argentina: “It began in CABA, it passed to the AMBA due to proximity and movement and later when everything was released the virus circulated throughout all the provinces at the same time, for the same traffic ”.
By way of conclusion, he warned: “The pandemic has shown the value of epidemiology and epidemiologists, those who by profession and because of what they studied know how to handle sociology, infectology, immunology, and fundamentally geography. Epidemiologists were definitely the stars of this COVID-19 outbreak, the classic epidemiological models that were presented already in April spoke of unstoppable peaks and valleys until there were vaccines or until the whole world was infected, as happens all over the world and in particular in the United States ”.
On the other hand, for Mauro Infantino, systems engineer and site creator covidstats, a page that gives a quick overview of the cases, deaths, positivity and doubling time (R) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease in Argentina and in Colombia, Mexico and Peru, “The analysis that emerges from the table seems quite complete, but I think that the data to do well with this type of study is very difficult to obtain (type and level of testing, ages of those infected, etc.). Likewise, to be able to affirm that if we look at The specific fatality and mortality rate per million inhabitants Argentina is very even with countries with universal health care models, It seems to me that we have to take into account that those countries are already well into a second wave and many others are not.
“Also, the first wave caught them ‘without warning’ while we in Argentina and many others on the list did lockdown before having community contagion. I am not fond of such generic comparisons. That’s why I try to focus on Latin American countries that are more like us in every way, “he concluded.