COVID-19 in South America

COVID-19 in South America

SARS-CoV-2 started spreading through South America already some 3 weeks ago. Ecuador and Chile are the countries most affected it seems. To show this we can look at the total number per capita, to make countries of different sizes comparable. As you can see from the graph below, Chile and Ecuador are at some 40 cases per 100,000 currently.

Spread of COVID-19 in major countries of South America

We believe that the total fatalities per capita provide an even better understanding of the situation.

Now this graph suggests that the COVID-19 situation in Ecuador is worse compared to the other countries in South America. As reported some 2 of 100,000 persons died of COVID-19 within Ecuador.

If we now compare the situation within South American with the information provided by European countries and the US, we see that the figures throughout Europe and the US are higher by a factor of 10.

Spread of COVID-19 in selected countries of Europe, plus USA
Note: Iceland had a large testing program in place and therefore knows about more cases. The graph might suggest the disease to be more problematic in Iceland, which is not the case.

How can we explain this difference? This can be explained easily with the level of testing. In South America patients are hardly tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection and therefore the diagnosis COVID-19 is much lower per capita. But, as a result, we need to assume that the virus is spreading while governments know little about the magnitude of the spread.

All the above raises the question how we interact with countries that either don’t measure the spread of a highly transmissible agent, like SARS-CoV-2. In the near future we want to return to a normal life and for this we all want to open boarders. But if a country poses a thread to another, the second country might well continue to restrict travel and negatively impact the economy.

As such it must be in the interest of the local governments throughout South America and Africa to know about the health situation within the country and be very transparent about the spread within the population.

[Closing Remark: At BECKMANN BIO we use robotic process automatisation (RPA) to continuously monitor fast changing environments. Information on the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 is a little showcase of such services.]