How are vaccines impacting Covid in Costa Rica?

A look at the ongoing coronavirus situation in Costa Rica.

With this week’s arrival of 500,000 doses donated by the United States, Costa Rica will soon make Covid-19 vaccines available to younger adults without risk factors.

So far, 1.78 million Ticos have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, representing about one-third of all residents.

While the pandemic is far from over in Costa Rica, there are reasons for optimism. Let’s look at the data:

New cases are trending down

After spiking to over 2,500 new cases per day in May, the daily tally of new cases has steadily dropped through mid-July:

This dip in new cases comes despite Costa Rica conducting significantly more tests. In June and July, the country is averaging 8,750 daily tests, compared to 5,550 in May.

In the below graph, you can see how the number of daily tests has spiked, even as cases decreases:

While authorities haven’t detected the highly contagious Delta variant in Costa Rica, it’s naïve to think it won’t soon arrive (if it hasn’t already). Delta could cause cases to spike, so it’s another incentive to vaccinate as quickly as possible.

Hospitalizations and deaths are dropping 

These are, of course, the most important statistics of all. How many people are ending up in the hospital with Covid-19, and how many people are dying? 

Hospitalization numbers surged in late May and early June but have since dropped. The figures are still quite high — 368 patients in the ICU is slightly above national capacity, impacting quality of care — but are trending in the right direction:

One clear impact of vaccines: Since Costa Rica began administrations, the average age of Covid-19 ICU patients has dropped by 11 years.

The average patient in Costa Rica who is in critical condition with Covid-19 is no longer an elderly adult; they are a 49-year-old.

After several weeks of lower cases and with an elderly population that is mostly vaccinated, Covid-19-related deaths in Costa Rica have dropped significantly as well:

In 2021 alone, more than 2,600 people in Costa Rica have died of causes related to Covid-19. Hundreds of others have been hospitalized and may suffer long-term health effects. Simply put, that’s devastating.

There won’t be a singular instant when the pandemic is officially “over,” but full stadiums and concerts in the United States signal where Costa Rica could be in a couple months. It’s not here yet — but soon, we hope.

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