Coronavirus: Put On Your Thinking Cap

Saturday, 6 June was day 85 of coronavirus in Guatemala. The current statistics show:

  • 6792 confirmed cases
  • 1133 recovered
  • 230 dead

If every Guatemalan was tested on 6 June then we would actually know how many people were infected. But, we don't. The items we do know are:

  • The government can currently test 1800 people per day
  • Early on that number was much lower

Even if we assume the government could test 1800 people per day since day one, that would mean that 153,000 people could have been tested but reality is much less. I think 100,000 would be optimistic. The population of Guatemala is about 18,000,000. That would mean 0.5% of the population could have been tested.

What this means is that the number of cases per day is more a function of the number of tests given and where they are given. Assuming testing is being done where coronavirus is expected to be found, the percentage of positives will be high -- but never more than 1800.

So, how many cases of coronavirus are there (active and recovered) in Guatemala? Without more information about the testing we don't have any idea but one million is probably the low end. People don't necessarily show symptoms and many will just think they had a cold.

Remember, the reason (here and elsewhere including the U.S.) for the quarantine was to "flatten the curve". Why? To not overwhelm the capacity of the medical facilities.

What next? I think the most important is to make sure we are using effective treatment. HCQ has been badmouthed by everyone who will or might make money off a vaccine but Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and many other places are seeing very positive results. They are seeing people healthy in days, not months. If these numbers are right, treatment with HCQ (plus zinc) can free up bed space much more quickly.

    • felipe

      Just an update on my thinking. Two specific points.

      The current numbers say there are 1886 recovered from covid-19. On the 19th or May there were 1933 infected. That means the recovery time is, at a minimum of 26 days. That seems long but maybe not long for a basically no treatment approach. Is it time for HCQ?

      My second point is on the "infection rate". Up to 1800 people can be tested per day. Recently, we are averaging about 300 new infections per day. That amounts to 17% of those tested. I assume testing is based on expected infections but I don't know. What is the real percentage of the population that is infected?