First the Bermuda Triangle… Now the COVID Kite?

When the UK government pretty much demolished its COVID “Red list” of countries in October, the interesting thing was not so much the countries that came off but the ones that remained

Almost all countries came off the list whether they had high COVID rates, low vaccination roll out, low detection facilities, you name it. Even Tanzania has come off the list when its government pretty much doesn’t believe in COVID and is instead relying on herbal remedies! Yet there are a small cluster of countries remaining on the Red List who occupy a kite shaped area of the world in Northern South America and the Caribbean.

But why? Are the death rates in every one of these countries significant? Why aren’t other areas of the world being penalised?

Let’s do some digging into this decision to see whether the driving cause is truly statistics-based…

Firstly, the biggest question is the elephant in the room; Brazil.
Everything that you should not do, Brazil has done.” – Professor Pedro Hallal, 2021 – (Epidemiologist)

Claiming the world’s second-highest death toll with a heart-wrenching total upwards of 600,000, Brazil has been in the global spotlight as an ‘epicenter’ of COVID in South America – Yet, the country isn’t on the Red List.
The blame is (almost) entirely placed on Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro with mass protests as late as October 2021 calling for the leader’s removal. On the turn of October, Brazil saw protests in over 160 cities and towns with more than 100 requests filed within the government to impeach Bolsonaro, showing just how badly effected the country has been.

How did it get so bad? Well, one of the most anger-invoking pieces of evidence came from a representative at Pfizer, the manufacturer of one of the world’s most distributed vaccines. The records showed over 100 emails unanswered by the Brazilian state in an attempt to sell the country vaccines. Though perhaps the driving factor of Brazil’s rocky COVID journey comes from Bolsonaro’s outlook on the pandemic, calling the virus “a little flu”, dismissing calls for social distancing and having a general anti-lockdown approach.

So what does this look like in a nutshell? 601K deaths & 21.6 million recorded cases, with a vaccination rollout of 47.1% of residents fully vaccinated (Google Statistics, October 2021). Brazil has recorded 49 infections per 100K people in the last 7 days too (Reuters, 12-Oct-21).

With Brazil as our benchmark for how badly things have gone wrong, let’s look at the countries on the red list line-up…

The red text in the chart shows statistics that are worse-off than Brazil, whilst green text shows figures that are better; as you can see, all of the Red List countries have a lower ‘Cases per 100K People’ than our benchmark… So is the evidence justified? Particularly for Dominican Republic, Ecuador & Panama who have better stats across the board, including vaccination rollouts?

To be fair, let’s see where these countries are in terms of peaks:
Brazil – New infections are 19% of peak and falling
Colombia – New infections are 5% of peak and levelling out after significant fall
Dominican Republic – New infections are 39% of peak and rising
Ecuador – New infections are 7% of peak and slowly falling
Haiti – New infections are 2% of peak and falling
Panama – New infections are 5% of peak and falling
Peru – New infections are 8% of peak and levelling out after significant fall
Venezuela – New infections are 96% of peak and rising

From the above, we can determine that Dominican Republic and Venezuela have cause to be on the Red List, but what about the other 5 countries? Even if the Government are basing this decision on the vaccine rollout, Ecuador and Haiti have no place on the list.

According to the same source (Reuters), the top 5 countries reporting the most new infections daily are; United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Russia and India. Of these 5, Turkey and Russia’s cases are the ones on the rise with:
Turkey – New infections are 49% of peak and rising (55.8% fully vaxxed)
Russia – New infections are 95% of peak and rising (30.7% fully vaxxed)
There definitely appears to be some level of inconsistency with regards to what the data is based on, unless there are external factors in the mix.

The only other explanation could be that this “Covid Kite” area may have a variant of concern. However, the government has not mentioned this and presumably they would have if there was one there.

There are enough conspiracy theories swirling around with Covid at the moment and so hopefully the government will explain their decision shortly to stop conspiracy theorists filling the void and turning the Bermuda Triangle into the Covid Kite!

Sources:
GOV.UK – Red List Countries https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-list-of-countries-and-territories
World Population Review – Chart Statistics https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/colombia-population
BBC News – Covid-19 pandemic: ‘Everything you should not do, Brazil has done’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-57733540
BBC News – Brazil Bolsonaro: Thousands protest calling for president’s removal https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-58777244
BBC News – UK gas prices fall from record high after Russia steps in https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-58815665
Aljazeera – Turkey, UK safeguard $25bn worth of trade in post-Brexit deal https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/6/turkey-uk-safeguard-25bn-worth-of-trade-in-post-brexit-deal
Google News – Vaccination Statistics https://news.google.com/covid19/map?hl=en-GB&mid=%2Fm%2F01znc_&gl=GB&ceid=GB%3Aen
Reuters – Global COVID Statistics https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/

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