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Peru and the novel coronavirus SARS-COV-2: doing much better than the rest of South America, especially Brazil

2020-04-01

(image courtesy of pixabay.com and Ri_Ya)

Yesterday, I mentioned that the countries with the highest prevalence of blood type O might see some protection from the novel coronavirus.  This study from China, published March 11 on Medrxiv, is the basis for this speculation.  Peru has the second largest percentage of people in the world with this blood type (70%, with Chile at 86%).  It also has a relatively stable, effective government.  This contrasts with Brazil and Mexico, whose leaders are still downplaying the seriousness of this pandemic.

A report  in the journal of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas published yesterday shows what is happening over the whole continent.  The graph that counts gives us a picture of what is happening in Peru, and by contrast, Brazil.  Peru has a shallowly increasing incidence of positive test results after the 100th case; Brazil has a steep curve, the worst in the continent.  Colombia, Mexico, and Panama also show slow rises in cases.  Cuba, with questionable data, has a similar, slow rise– I will discount their results because of the authoritarian dictatorship there.  Chile seems to have had a middle-of-the-road curve.

Mexico appears to be doing relatively well, but I suspect that case finding is very poor there.  Reports emerged this week of vacationers to Mexico returning to the US with infections (sorry, not sourced; you’ll have to Google it).  Infrastructure is weak, and their leader AMLO (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador) has been dismissive of the new virus’ impact.  A national health emergency was declared on March 30, more than a month after their first case was reported on February 28.  Nearly 50% of Mexicans live in poverty, and 82% disapproved of AMLO’s extensive travel within the country.  On March 27, AMLO encouraged Mexicans to stay home, but the next day he started another journey, “which included a stop to meet—and shake hands—with the mother of U.S.-imprisoned drug cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman.”

Peru has been trying hard since its first case was announced March 6.  A strict national quarantine and state of emergency was declared on March 15 and took effect on March 19, including a ban from the roads for private vehicles.  The same day, 3 million poor families received payments of $100 each for two weeks of basic goods.  President Vizcarra’s approval rating has soared 35% to 87%, and 95% support the lockdown.  That very same day, the president announced that he had ordered 1.4 million test kits.

Details for all South and Central American countries are available in this report, so if this is something you are interested in, I encourage you to follow the link and look at what Chile has been up to.  Whether the prevalence of type O blood in Chile and Peru will be protective remains to be seen; with many of its people having other types, there is plenty of room for damage.  Fortunately for poor Peruvians, their government is trying hard.

Chile, with 86% of its people having type O blood, has done better than Brazil but not as well as the countries mentioned above.  Thus, type O might be irrelevant to the larger picture– government response might be more important.  What’s your blood type?

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