Colombia’s President Ivan Duque wasn’t too alarmed about the coronavirus until the National Health Institute (INS) told him on Friday he was heading towards a holocaust.
Before that, Duque only knew the coronavirus was going to be a costly affair, which is probably why on Friday afternoon he met up with Colombia’s most famous quack, immunologist Manuel Elkin Patarroyo.
Delighted Duque briefly revived his lost prestige, Patarroyo gladly said that “all the measures that the president and his team have taken to control the coronavirus are correct.”
The quack’s ignorance alarmed Colombia’s real scientists of the INS who explained to Duque the implications of a 2.68 contagion rate combined with, if lucky, a 3.2% mortality rate early Friday evening.
The health ministry never told Duque that their calculations predicted an almost certain public lynching of the president.
The scientists did and hours later, Duque announced a quarantine.
The Health Ministry’s calculations
According to the health ministry, 34.2% of the entire population are expected to become infected. That’s 11.7 million people.
The ministry projected that 13.8% of these people would fall severely ill and 4.7% critically ill. This amounts to almost 2.2 million people.
The cost of providing healthcare to these people alone would be $1.1 billion. Of this, health insurance payments would cover only $23.1 million, the ministry calculated.
Additionally, the government would need to make a $48.9 million investment in intensive care units for adults and convert hotels into isolation areas, which would cost another $8.8 million.
The total cost according to this scenario would be 4,961,885,951,600 pesos ($1.2 billion)
In the report based on the first 10 days after the coronavirus’ arrival, the health ministry calculated the contagion rate was 2.68.
What the health ministry never told the president was that the mortality rate of the coronavirus stands at 4.4%.
Duque finds out he could fall victim to a public lynching
Using the Health Ministry’s projections, this would mean that Duque sooner rather than later would have to explain to the Colombian people why 515,000 people died, not even counting those dying for not having access to health care.
The scientists did tell the president this early Friday evening, and for the first time since August 2018, Duque woke up from his pipe dream and immediately announced a quarantine.
Preventing a presidential lynching
The coronavirus’ mortality rate varies, depending on a population’s average age, health, etc. No government can do much to lower the mortality rate other than provide the adequate healthcare while waiting for a vaccine.
The only thing Duque can do is lower the contagion rate to prevent the decomposition of society and possibly the public lynching of the president.
Fortunately for the president, local governments had already rebelled against him and had refused to revoke contagion measures.
According to Professor Diego Roselli of the Clinical Epidemiology Department of the Javeriana University, their curfews and quarantines, combined with the national government’s measures, had lowered the contagion rate to 2.28 by Saturday.
A 0.4 point drop may sound like nothing, but especially in the early stages, this is vital and may have saved the country and Duque’s life.
Best case scenario
While in quarantine and based on Friday’s numbers, Roselli roughly calculated that the best possible scenario is a 1.5 contagion rate.
If Duque achieves this rate immediately, he has two weeks before 10,000 people fall ill and — unless its capacity is urgently expanded — the country’s intensive care units will saturate, according to the professor’s projection.
By April 20, more than 50,000 would have been infected and roughly between 600 and 970 people would have succumbed to the virus.
This best case scenario, the professor explained, required that the borders and airports stay closed, the population upholds the quarantine and everybody upholds hygiene protocol.
Most likely scenario
The most likely scenario, a 2.0 contagion rater, is already a lot uglier.
This 0.5 point difference would mean that the country’s ICU’s will reach their full capacity on April 6 . By April 20, 300,000 would be infected, according to to Roselli’s projections.
By there wouldn’t be ventilators for the majority of those who would need it and calculating deaths becomes a sheer guess.
Continuation of Friday’s rate
The consequences of Friday’s 2.28 contagion rate — the one before the lockdown and the quarantine — are almost unimaginable.
According to the professor’s calculations, the country’s ICU’s may not even make it until the end of this month and by April 20, 750,000 people would be infected. This is 1.5% of the population in only one month.
At that point, projecting deaths becomes impossible as society could come apart. Had the scientists not intervened after the president’s chit-chat with Colombian science’s greatest shame, Duque would be weeks away from being held accountable for a holocaust.