Tuesday 28 March 2023

67 centenarians have been infected with covid-19, most have already recovered

Five of them are active cases, 45 have already recovered and 17 have died; are located in 53 districts of 29 cantons in the seven provinces of Costa Rica

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QCOSTARICA – Since the pandemic began in Costa Rica, in March 2020, and to this Friday, January 21, 2022, covid-19 knocked on the door of 67 centenarians, Costa Ricans 100 years of age or older, according to official data from the Ministry of Health.

The oldest person to live with the disease was 113 years old when she became infected in March 2021, two weeks later she was already registered as recovered, as did 45 others, the oldest was 103 years old.

Unfortunately, 17 others did not survive covid,

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Five were recently infected and are counted as active cases, the oldest of the latter is 105 years old. None have required an intensive care unit (ICU).

They are part of the 40,160 older adults who have been infected with this virus in the last 22 months.

According to projections of the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), in Costa Rica, there are 569 people who exceed the century of life. Photo: Marcela_Bertozzi

Where are they?

These 67 people are located in 53 different districts of 29 cantons of the seven provinces. The five active cases at this time are in the provinces of San José, specifically in San Antonio de Alajuelita and Patalillo de Coronado; in Heredia, in the central district of Santa Bárbara; and in Puntarenas, in the central districts of Golfito and Parrita.

The province that accumulated the most of these cases is San José with 25: two active, 14 recovered and 9 deceased; Alajuela follows with 16: 13 recovered and 3 deceased, the two provinces group three out of five cases in centenarians, and are also the ones with the largest national population. The canton with the highest incidence is San José, with 12 infected.

Guanacaste and Cartago register the least, each province with three. The latter province is the only one that does not report deaths, the three centenarians (one from El Guarco and two from the central canton) recovered satisfactorily.

For its part, in Heredia, five centenarians have recovered and two have died. In Puntarenas four have recovered and one has died; the same in Limón.

Chart from La Nacion

Other data

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In general terms, infections in centenarians represent only 0.01% of the total number of infected registered in the country and 0.17% of those seen in older adults.

However, if the proportion is analyzed only among those over 100 years of age, the numbers increase, since according to projections by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), in Costa Rica there are 569 people who 100 years of living, that is to say, that 11.8% of this population has tested positive in the last 22 months.

There is other information that is not available in the data that the Ministry of Health shares. For example, it does not indicate how many of these people are men or women, nor does it mention the number of days it took, on average, to recover, or how many have needed hospitalization. Neither their vaccination status nor whether they have had the disease more than once is known.

Increased vulnerability

The lethality of the disease is high when compared to the national average and even to the average for older adults. Nationwide, 1.2% of reported cases have resulted in death. In older adults, 10.6% of those reported with the disease have died. In the case of centenarians, the lethality rises to 25.4%, a figure that has dropped in recent months. In March 2021 it was 28.6%.

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However, 67 cases is still a very small number and one more person recovered or one more deceased would make a big difference in the case fatality rate. These types of indicators (lethality and recovery rate) are more accurate the more people there are.

These numbers are not surprising in such a long-lived population. As we age, the defense system also ages and does not work the same in a person of 30 or 40 years as in a person of 80 or 90 years, much less in someone over 100 years. It is a normal biological process that happens in all human beings called immunosenescence. As we age, our defenses do not respond equally to any pathogen.

This leads us to two processes: one, getting more seriously ill when we are faced with a pathogen, and two, that when receiving any vaccine we do not have the same weapons to build our response and attack the “invader”. We have weapons, yes, but not in the same quality or quantity, and as “soldiers” we have become more clumsy in using such tools.

Costa Rican geriatrician Yalile Muñoz sums it up this way: “The response is slower and lasts less. It takes longer to get and the time that the antibodies last is shorter.


July 26, 2020, was the first time the country reported a case of covid-19 in a 100-year-old person, more than four and a half months after the disease arrived in the country.

The first death was reported on August 12 and the first recovery on September 2.

This age group was among the first vaccinations in Costa Rica, with the arrival of the first vaccines on December 24, 2020.

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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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