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  • Dany Goldraij

Great news, Latin America received COVID-19 vaccines


Latin America has been one of the worst-hit regions from the Covid-19 pandemic, globally. Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Peru have reported major outbreaks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) gave its first approval for the emergency use of a vaccine against Covid-19 on 31/12/2020 evening: the immunizer developed by the British Pfizer and the German BioNTech.

The immunizer’s inclusion in the WHO emergency use list allows UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to acquire and distribute the vaccine to less developed countries.

The decision also allows countries that do not have structured regulatory agencies to streamline their regulatory approval processes to import the vaccine and start applying it to their population.


In general, access to any vaccine will not be wide and unrestricted in Latin America.

All countries in Latin America and the Caribbean expressed their interest in participating in the vaccine process, although some cannot buy vaccines. But this mechanism should take the coronavirus vaccine to only 10% to 20% of the poorest countries’ populations.



Mexico

Mexico is the first country in the region to receive the coronavirus vaccine,

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on a live video that he estimates that, by April, the majority of the “most vulnerable” Mexicans will be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Mexico plans to immunize 750,000 health professionals and then people over 90 years old. The plan is to use the purchase of 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for this (each person will take two doses).




Mexico has recorded a total of 1.3 million COVID-19 infections and 119,495 deaths related to the disease, the fourth-highest death toll worldwide.


Brazil

Shipments of the Pfizer vaccine are scheduled to arrive in some other Latin American nations this week and vaccine candidates from other producers have already arrived in Brazil and some other nations pending formal approval by their health authorities.


Brazil’s Health Ministry expects to have at least 150 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19 available in the first half of 2021, with a third or more coming from a Chinese company.


Arnaldo Medeiros, a health ministry official, told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that an initial deal to acquire 46 million doses of vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech could soon be expanded to 100 million doses.

The Sao Paulo state government’s Butantan Institute is expected on Wednesday to present data from its late-stage trial of the Sinovac vaccine, called CoronaVac, which has already begun rolling off its fill-and-finish production line.


President Jair Bolsonaro had snubbed that vaccine, citing doubts about its “origin” and trading barbs with Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, a political rival. But the Health Ministry has been eager to secure supplies of it as the global rush for vaccines heats up.

The federal government’s Fiocruz biomedical centre is also expected to begin fill-and-finish of the AstraZeneca vaccine in coming months, delivering the first shots on February 8. The ministry expects 104 million doses by June, officials said.

Separately, the ministry is in talks with Pfizer to receive eight million doses of the vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech in the first half of 2021.

In Brazil, from Jan 3 to 6:30pm CET, 2 January 2021, there have been 7,675,973 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 194,949 deaths.

No COVID-19 vaccine has been approved yet for use in Brazil.



Argentina

Argentina began to vaccinate its citizens against the COVID-19 using Sputnik V. Last week, 300,000 doses of the Russian vaccine were delivered in the country.

Latin America’s third-largest economy registered nearly 1.6 million cases of the disease and 42,868 deaths since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March.

Health workers will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by members of the policy, teachers, the elderly and other high-risk groups.

Following the authorization in the UK, the coronavirus vaccine from the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has been approved for emergency use in Argentina.

In November, Argentina signed an agreement with the British laboratory for 22.4 million doses. The authorization process at ANMAT had started a month earlier, on October 5. So far, the Argentine health agency has authorized two vaccines against the coronavirus: the Russian Sputnik V, of which 300,000 doses have already begun to be applied to health personnel, and that of Pfizer/BioNTech.



Colombia

Colombia’s President Iván Duque announced in his daily broadcast on Wednesday that the National Government closed an agreement with the pharmaceutical company Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, to purchase 9 million vaccines against COVID-19.

According to Duque, unlike other vaccines, this one only needs one dose per person. With this new figure, the country will be able to vaccinate 29 million Colombians next year.

“In the next few days, we will also be closing agreements to be able to tell 35 million Colombians that they will be vaccinated,” said the President. According to experts, with the vaccination of 35 million Colombians, an approximation of herd immunity could be achieved in the country, which has around 50 million inhabitants.




Chile


Chile, the first country in South America to begin vaccinating against COVID-19, started innoculations on Thursday after receiving its initial 10,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNtech.

Chile has vaccine deals with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinovac and is part of the global vaccine distribution scheme COVAX. Chile’s Health Minister Enrique Paris said he expected Pfizer to send 240,000 doses in January and the first batch of Sinovac vaccines after Jan. 20.

Authorities aim to inoculate 80% of Chile’s 19 million people in the first half of next year.




Uruguay

Uruguay stands out as having successfully kept the spread of the virus contained. Despite a recent increase in new daily cases over the past month, Uruguay has consistently kept its positive test rate under 2% since June. Uruguay’s smaller overall population and low population density influenced the slower spread of the virus; however, one of the most important factors was swift and efficient testing. Taking a closer look at how Uruguay managed the Covid-19 pandemic could provide insight into how other Latin American countries can replicate these results and reopen their economy safely.

To date, Uruguay has recorded a total of 10,893 confirmed cases and 102 deaths due to Covid-19




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