By Javier Castro Bugarin
Buenos Aires, Jul 14 (EFE).- Argentina is approaching the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from coronavirus as the spread of more dangerous variants outpaces vaccination efforts.
The death toll increased by 387 to 99,640, the health ministry said Wednesday, while only 11 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated and less than 50 percent have received at least one dose.
The introduction of variants such as P.1, first detected in the Brazilian Amazon, has made the second wave of the pandemic deadlier than the first in Argentina, with an average of 455 deaths per day since mid-April.
Over the last seven days, Argentina’s Covid-19 fatality rate stood at 8.52 for every 100,000 inhabitants, trailing only Suriname (11.93) and Costa Rica (10.99) in Latin America, according to the website Our World in Data.
“These figures should not surprise us. The strategy of one dose for everyone is not bad in a situation of scarcity, but what is certain is that we still have many people over 60, pregnant, or with co-morbidities who have reached the second does,” Dr. Elena Obieta, a member of the Argentine Infectology Society, told Efe.
Argentina has seen some improvement in July, as the median number of new infections has declined from 20,141 to 15,517 a day in the last two weeks and daily deaths are down from 476 to 379.
Authorities at the municipal and provincial level have cited the downward trend as justification for loosening restrictions.
Regions that normally receive tourists during the Southern Hemisphere winter, including Mendoza and Cordoba (both home to ski resorts) are not requiring visitors to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
“As long as we have so much community circulation of the virus, we will invariably have the appearance of new variants,” Obieta said, pointing to episodes of collective “indiscipline” such as the celebrations of Argentina’s victory last weekend in the Copa America soccer tournament.
Health authorities are on alert over the virulent Delta variant, which emerged in India last October. To date, only 15 Delta infections have been confirmed in Argentina and all of them were attributable to international travel.
The national government has imposed tighter testing and self-isolation requirements on people arriving from abroad and prosecutors have filed charges against 287 individuals for flouting the rules.
The inoculation campaign is gathering speed thanks to the arrival of consignments of the Sputnik V, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines.
Argentina, with an estimated population of 45.6 million, has so far received more than 31.25 million doses of vaccine and the government signed a contract last Sunday for the delivery of 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine in the second quarter of 2022. EFE