Graphic: Argentina’s cases are likely underreported
As countries across the globe scramble to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections, Argentina’s list of detected cases is growing at an angle less steep than other countries in the region. The data suggests this is more likely due to a limited testing capacity than to an effective control of the pandemic.
As the chart (based on data from John Hopkins University’s world coronavirus tracker) shows, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay, all in the same region as Argentina, have seen their confirmed cases grow much faster, but reports indicate they are testing a higher share of their population as well. Chile, with only 18 million inhabitants overall, is testing 800 people per day, while Argentina currently stands at 150 with 45 million. Uruguay is only doing 20, but its population of 3.5 million still means it is testing at a higher rate than its Rio de la Plata neighbors.
The Argentine government has promised to expand its testing capabilities in the coming days and, according to La Nación’s science editor Nora Bär, the number of centers doing tests will rise from 1 to 5 as of today, as the Malbrán Institute in Buenos Aires City will be joined by others in Buenos Aires Province, Chaco, Córdoba and Tierra del Fuego. Later this month, the 35 labs in Argentina’s influenza testing network should join the coronavirus testing efforts in full.
👉Para acelerar los testeos, como pide la OMS, mañana se suman al Malbrán laboratorios en Tierra del Fuego, Córdoba, Chaco y Provincia de Buenos Aires; después del 26, los 35 laboratorios de la red de influenza. 👍
— Nora Bär (@norabar) March 18, 2020
With winter in mind, Argentina’s Science and Technology Ministry is also financing the development of rapid detection kits with the goal of launching widespread testing in the next two months, while working to add another 15 locations to the aforementioned 35 as well.