In March of last year, when a recent epidemic shocked the world, French-Spanish engineer Thomas Boyeux He is best known for a text he wrote on Medium in which he proposed a theory to try to put an end to the coronavirus without completely paralyzing the economy: dance and hammer. Since then, the pandemic “teacher” has just published a new script, and a year later, break 25 mistakes that she was committed to not being able to control. and in it, He criticizes Argentina.
Poor reaction speed, failure to handle vaccines, ineffective contact tracing, willingness to apply prescriptions from developed countries to poor economies, underestimation of the usefulness of rapid tests, denial of aerosols as a major means of transmission and a lack of understanding of the exact scope of individual freedoms are some of those points. 25 that Buyu narrates in his text and in which Western countries have generally failed.
Boyu explains that the Trinity Detection, tracing and isolation They were fundamental to success (or failure) against Covid-19. He adds: “All countries that achieved a low level of deaths were also excellent in tracing all cases, their contacts, and requiring and enforcing isolation and quarantine of those infected or suspected.” He comments, “Some countries couldn’t reduce cases sufficiently, no matter what they did. Argentina and Peru are good examples of that. So they didn’t even have the option to isolate the tracer. But the richer countries don’t have an excuse.”
In October, in an interview with ClarionAnd the Only Argentina can mitigate the crisis, Puyo said. Today, with nearly 4 million positive cases and over 80,000 deaths, our country ranks third among the countries with the largest number of patients in treatment per million inhabitants, at 21 in terms of the number of deaths per million and in the 25 in terms of the number of patients . Positives per million. In tests per million inhabitants, we are in 99th place. Via email, Poyo analyzes how some of these 25 global errors were reflected to arrive at this localized scenario.
What are Argentina’s main mistakes in not being able to twist the arm of the virus?
Argentina hit a hard sledgehammer and failed to stop the cases. But we know that it is possible, because other poor countries like Vietnam or Thailand have been able to stop them. The key was not to let it expand at first. When cases exploded in the poorest neighborhoods, they stopped in some of them a bit but not in the rest of the city and then in the countryside. This was the point where something could have been done. Then it becomes very difficult because it is almost endemic to Argentina already, it is ubiquitous. During the summer there was a chance the cases eased up a bit and it was easier to control.
– After we had the “longest quarantine in the world”, we’re now talking about intermittent quarantines. How must this policy be implemented to be effective?
– There is a question: if the initial hammer blow does not work, is it worth it more? The idea of hammer and dance that the hammer is expensive but used for a short time, and after that dance it is much cheaper. But if you were to apply intermittent quarantine that has a very different cost benefit and is not as obvious as a hammer and a dance. I did not make this account. The calculation that had to be made is if we let the virus run by shutting down a bit where there are cases and where the health system is really collapsing, how many people are dying and how much is that impacting the economy and vice versa. But I haven’t seen any such analysis comparing these two factors.
One of the most intense discussions we have today in Argentina is about education. At this point in the pandemic, should schools be open or not?
Education is one of the most difficult subjects. What still seems to be true is that children infect less, they infect others less, and when they are infected they suffer less. This is even more true when children are younger. In addition, educating young children has two functions: education but also the task of liberating the parents so that they can go about their activities. As for the question of whether one should open, I don’t know. But if you have to open up, let these be the youngest ones. My personal opinion is that there are many cheaper ways to reduce infection without affecting the economy. Kindergartens and primary schools help the economy and children the most.
– In Argentina, vaccines are distributed to provinces by their total population, not by the percentage of people at risk. And they are sent equally to everyone, not in larger quantities to those with a more serious infection condition. Are these strategies correct?
– The most important thing is to inject as many people as possible. It makes sense to be simple at first. It seems logical to me that once vaccination starts, improvement is done and more is sent to areas where there are elderly people or people at greater risk, and where there are more cases.
The critical point is to test-trace-isolate. As you have well pointed out, we are not on a par with rich countries. But anyway, how can it be applied in a country like ours?
– As other developing countries have done so. I’ll give you examples of Thailand and Vietnam again. If I were in charge, the first thing I would do was give a million dollars to the head of these systems to come and explain how to do it. The cost is much cheaper than trying to stop the virus some other way. What did these experts advise? Be bolder in taking action.
– Last year the government built a huge isolation center in Technopolis that was dismantled because it did not work. Were isolation centers effective in which country?
Of course people don’t want to go, people want to stay at home. The problem is that this is not done by them alone, but by society. If someone commits a crime, you obviously don’t want to go to jail, they send you because it is a danger to others. This is similar, obviously there is a difference that you are not a criminal because you are infected, but infected people are a danger to others and that is why you have to take action. And that is the reason for isolation and quarantine, since people do not want to do it, they must be forced. Taiwan and South Korea to make sure people respected them, followed them with their mobile phone or electronic device, and if they left the house, there were huge fines of $10,000.
-And with relics?
– While respecting the isolates, it failed to trace contacts in a similar way. If we rely on what people want to say, they won’t tell you everything. Because imagine that you are infected, they call you and if you say I have been in contact with my girlfriend, they will want to isolate my girlfriend. Then I wouldn’t say it. If you have very large fines and are lying, you can convince people not to. I don’t know how well organized the contact tracing teams were in Argentina, it is very likely that they were not well organized and did not contact everyone within 24 hours. It’s another potential point of failure.
– In Argentina, the positivity rate exceeds 30%, but according to the health authorities, this is not a variable as a reflection of better or worse management of the epidemic. What do you think that?
-very high. To give you an example, the percentage in South Korea is between 2% and 3%. The question is why. If you’re testing everyone because you want to isolate them, then yes, you have to test more. But if that’s not what you want, and it obviously doesn’t look that way in Argentina, why test? My hypothesis is that you get tested because they get to the hospital and you want to know if you have coronavirus. So, in the end, that number reflects the percentage of people who arrive at the hospital with Covid symptoms who get tested. The problem is that this percentage shows me first that we have no idea what the real case numbers are because there are many cases out of control that infect others and of course they are also untraceable and quarantine cases. It is yet another symptom of the administration unable to stop the epidemic.
– I also mentioned in the article the importance of building confidence in leaders. How do you evaluate the management of political leaders in Argentina in this regard?
I can not comment on Argentina. I know it’s very politicized there. But what I would say is that this is happening all over Latin America and similar things have happened in the West. When you have a problem that only occurs in one country, the fault lies with the country. But when it does in general, it’s more than just a system. Western systems have failed and you have to wonder why. There are factors that influenced the assistance in Southeast Asian countries: they are more sensitive and have more experience in managing epidemics, many are islands, and some have been more authoritarian. We have to ask ourselves what can we do in our country so that this does not happen again and I think it is a problem of social coordination. It is linked by culture through democracies where not a single vote every four years results in political systems able to respond quickly: If you vote for me now, what should I do so that you will vote for me again in four years. That’s what the political system in Western democracy thinks, and it’s not fast enough to manage the crisis as it is and, worse, solve other crises that may come in the next few years.