Santiago, Mar 16 (efe-epa).- The number of people in Chile who have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose rose on Tuesday to more than 5 million, a figure that includes the entire at-risk population and was achieved 15 days ahead of schedule.
“We reached our goal … which undoubtedly was a very difficult task,” said President Sebastian Piñera, who recalled that hundreds of thousands of people have been involved in the vaccination drive.
Of the 5 million individuals who have received at least one dose, 2.1 million – including adults over the age of 70, health workers, teachers and members of the security forces – are already fully vaccinated.
The government, which has secured 35 million doses from different pharmaceutical companies and through the World Health Organization’s Covax mechanism, is now working toward a new goal of inoculating the rest of the target population (about 15 million people) by the end of June.
Since launching its mass vaccination effort on Feb. 3, Chile has made enormous strides and on March 14 ranked fourth worldwide in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered per 100 people (34.52), behind only Israel (108.36), the United Arab Emirates (66.13) and the United Kingdom (38.39), according to the University of Oxford’s “Our World in Data” website.
Chile also currently boasts the world’s fastest inoculation rate, with a rolling seven-day average of 1.5 doses per 100 inhabitants on March 15, according to that same source.
The country’s early negotiations with vaccine producers and extensive primary health care network have been two of the key factors in accelerating the rollout.
“Believe me, ensuring vaccines for all Chileans has been an extraordinarily difficult task and one filled with obstacles, but we’ve pulled it off,” the conservative president said.
He announced that 4 million more vaccine doses will arrive over the next few days and that the inoculation of people aged 50 to 59 will begin on March 24.
Chile, with 900,782 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21,789 deaths attributed to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, is currently coping with a second wave of the health emergency and reporting figures similar to last June’s peak.
A total of 4,591 additional cases and 17 new deaths were registered on Tuesday, according to health authorities, who said the case positivity rate (the number of coronavirus infections detected per 100 PCR tests performed) has climbed to 9.7 percent.
“This successful mass vaccination is a great ally, a tremendous help, but there’s no need to lower our guard,” said Piñera, who faced criticism over his government’s crackdown on 2019 anti-governments protests and its early response to the coronavirus crisis but has seen his approval rating rise thanks to the rapid pace of inoculations.