In Peru, nearly 2.5% of all men over age 60 may have died from COVID-19

Just a quick calculation on my part, if you see any serious errors or omissions please let me know:

  • MINSA is currently reporting 18,589 deaths in men over age 60. See page 5 of the data, the actual nr. will probably be higher when you open the page as the data is updated regularly.
  • The OpenCovid-Peru project is showing that the total COVID-19 death toll in Peru, based on analysis of death certificates filed, is likely to be about 2.4 times higher than the fatalities reported by MINSA. In my opinion that is a reliable estimate. That would put the actual death toll among men over age 60 around 44,000 to date.
  • The population of men over 60 in Peru should be in the magnitude of 1.8 million according to demographic data from the CIA.

Do the math and it appears that COVID-19 has already killed nearly 2.5 percent of men over age 60. That’s about 1 per graduating class if you were in an industrialized country. Peru is just now entering the worst of the second wave, only time will tell what the true impact of COVID-19 will be. So far COVID-19 has been devastating here in Peru and there’s no sign of it letting up any time soon.

Peru’s COVID-19 vaccine debacle explained

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “Hi Minsa, we need some money to buy the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Minsa: “Fill out the request.”

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “Here you go!”

Minsa: “No no no no. You have to take it to Mesa de Partes, around the corner over there.”

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “Hi Mesa de Partes, I have a request here for some money to buy the COVID-19 vaccine.”

… stamp stamp sign stamp finger print copy of DNI …

Mesa de Partes: “5 to 7 business days”

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “Sweet, so in 5 to 7 business days we get the money to buy the COVID-19 vaccine?”

Mesa de Partes: “No no no no. In 5 to 7 business days we will get this to the right person.”

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “Wait, so you’re telling me it will take you 5 to 7 business days just to take this request back to the guy who gave it to me 2 minutes ago? That’s so outrageous.”

Mesa de Partes: “Next!”

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “Wait wait wait. There’s a pandemic going on. There’s got to be a way you can expedite this?!”

Mesa de Partes: “Next!”

… (5 to 7 business days later) …

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “Hi Minsa, did you get a chance to approve the request for funds to buy the COVID-19 vaccine?”

Minsa: “Well let me see….”

Minsa: “Says here this vendor isn’t registered to do business in Peru. We’ll need their application, ficha RUC, 3 years of tax returns and a sworn declaration of something.”

Minsa: “Also a sample of the product they want to sell so we can evaluate if it meets criteria.”

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “But how am I supposed to get a sample of the vaccine if you don’t want to provide any funds to buy it?”

Minsa: “Surely you must know someone who lives in the USA who can buy a sample for you?”

Minsa: “If their ficha RUC is a RUS then we’ll also need the individual owners’ sworn declaration of something.”

Minsa: “As soon as you have it all ready take it over to Mesa de Partes, around the corner over there.”

Vaccine buyer dude(tte): “But there’s a pandemic.”

Minsa: “Next!”

Matico: herbal COVID-19 treatment with benefits

The word’s on everybodies lips here in Cusco.


Matico is a tropical tree which is believed to have healing characteristics by the native people of the Amazon jungle in Peru. In recent weeks word has been spreading like wildfire throughout the Cusco region that Matico prevents and heals Covid-19. I was going to write about Matico, take some nice pictures, make some silly jokes. Matico is also believed to be an aphrodisiac. Origin of the rumor on Facebook. Quarantine, aphrodisiac, Facebook, you see where that was going.

Alas there will be no silly jokes, just a picture of a glass of Matico drink and some lines of Go code. The healthcare system in Cusco has collapsed, all the news is bad. Decades of institutional failure have caught up with Peru in the Covid-19 crisis and frankly I find work the easiest thing to deal with right now. The time just doesn’t seem right for silly jokes.


I’m not into herbal supplements but if you are, you might try my friend Colin at Peruvian Naturals. All legit too.

Iquitos Peru possibly the first region with demonstrated herd immunity (Covid-19)

Excellent report in La Republica today. The results are preliminary but there appears to be a strong degree of confidence:

  • 71% of the population show presence of Covid-19 antibodies, 22% IgM (active infection) and 49% IgG (previously infected).
  • Hospitalizations have dropped 90% from the earlier peak of the crisis in Iquitos.

Other areas of Peru, including here in Cusco, appear to be just now entering into the worst of the Covid-19 crisis, which is noteworthy because containment measures have been the same throughout Peru but the epidemic appears to have moved in waves throughout different areas of the country.

UNSAAC study of Covid-19 mortality rates at high elevations

A recently published study by Anahi Cardona and Manuel Montoya of the Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (UNSAAC) concludes that there is a statistically significant difference in Covid-19 mortality rates at high elevations.

Here in Cusco there have been 3 fatalities attributed to Covid-19 to date but there is growing concern that the underlying infection rate is set to increase. Time will tell.

Stay safe.

Suspected Covid-19 fatalities left to rot in Cusco (Updated)

Allegedly, unconfirmed, and I very much hope it isn’t true but word reaches that the corpse of a person who died several days ago here in Cusco has still not been removed from the home where the person passed. I cannot confirm this is true but the source is not an internet rumor.

There have been various other reports, some confirmed, of people with symptoms seeking help to no avail. Hope for a miracle.

Update 4/9: Authorities have now formally denied this was happening and it appears the deceased person did not have Covid-19. People remain nervous about the lack of resources to fight the pandemic. As of yesterday, fewer than 400 Covid-19 tests had been administered in Cusco.

Covid-19 transparency, please.

Forget about the wild conspiracies, I’m not going there. But I think as a society we can’t make smart decisions if we don’t have real data. Copy and paste this and email it to your local newspaper or civil registry office. It’s a sample SQL query that would show year-over-year nr. of death certificates issued by fiscal week.

Even with the inherent lag of counting deaths, I think this would provide a much clearer picture of the onset and evolution of the epidemic than most visualizations I’ve seen elsewhere. You pay taxes, you have a right to know.

-- YoY change by fiscal week.
    my_2019_data.fiscal_week AS fiscal_week, 
    my_2019_data.nr_death_certificates AS 2019_deaths,
    my_2020_data.nr_death_certificates AS 2020_deaths,
    CASE WHEN my_2020_data.nr_death_certificates IS NOT NULL THEN to_char( (my_2020_data.nr_death_certificates::numeric - my_2019_data.nr_death_certificates::numeric) / (my_2019_data.nr_death_certificates::numeric / 100::numeric), '999D99' ) ELSE NULL END AS yoy_change_2019_2020 
  ( SELECT fw AS fiscal_week, count(death_certificates) AS nr_death_certificates 
      ( SELECT extract(week FROM date_deceased) AS fw, * 
        FROM my_public_records.death_certificates
        WHERE death_certificates.date_deceased >= '2019-01-01'::date
        AND death_certificates.date_deceased < '2020-01-01'::date
      ) mydata_19
    GROUP BY fw 
    ORDER BY fw 
  ) my_2019_data
  ( SELECT fw AS fiscal_week, count(death_certificates) AS nr_death_certificates 
      ( SELECT extract(week FROM date_deceased) AS fw, * 
        FROM my_public_records.death_certificates
        WHERE death_certificates.date_deceased >= '2020-01-01'::date
        AND death_certificates.date_deceased < '2021-01-01'::date
      ) mydata_20
    GROUP BY fw 
    ORDER BY fw 
  ) my_2020_data USING(fiscal_week);