Analysis – Keith Rankin, 10 June 2022
Cuba’s demographic information, though slow to become available, at least exists and appears to be reliable. A week ago, Cuba released its 2021 mortality data. The result is shown in the chart above. To place this into context, there is also a chart for Brazil, using the same scale.
For further context, for the 21 months from March 2020 to November 2021, Cuba lost nearly one in 200 of its population to Covid19, the vast majority of these from July to October 2021. Until December 2020, Cuba was in a similar situation to New Zealand, with negative Covid19 deaths.
Cuba is now making its own vaccines, and apparently they are good vaccines. Though I expect most Cubans were unvaccinated in 2021. But Cuba was by no means the only undervaccinated country in the world in 2021. And, in 2020 when no countries were vaccinated, few countries had death spikes like this one.
Cuba, while a poor country, has a sophisticated healthcare system and the same life expectancy as the United States. It looks very likely that attempts in Cuba to keep the country safe backfired; those very efforts almost certainly made the Cuban population vulnerable.
Brazil, which received much media attention, certainly had many more deaths in the first 14 months of the pandemic. But in the first 21 months, Brazil lost less than one in 300 of its people to the pandemic, only slightly worse than the United States. (For further comparison, Germany lost one in 860, and Sweden one in 970.)
So far, New Zealand’s recent excess deaths – especially March 2022 – have been similar to those in Cuba in January 2021. New Zealand is on track for a coming seasonal mortality peak similar to Brazil’s most recent covid peak (January 2022).
Keith Rankin (keith at rankin dot nz), trained as an economic historian, is a retired lecturer in Economics and Statistics. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.