Chile administers two-dose vaccine series to half of target population

Santiago, May 20 (EFE).- Chilean health authorities said Thursday that over half of the target population, or more than 7.6 million people, have received a full two-dose Covid-19 vaccine series.

“The population needs to be aware of the need to get vaccinated. We have the vaccines and the personnel. It’s now up to you,” Health Minister Enrique Paris said.

The South American country is carrying out one of the world’s fastest and most successful immunization drives, ranking second globally in terms of the percentage of the population having already received two vaccine doses, according to the University of Oxford.

More than six in 10 people, meanwhile, have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose.

Vaccine availability, which had been restricted to health care personnel, the chronically ill and essential workers at the start of the inoculation campaign last December, has now been extended to all people over the age of 30 on a voluntary basis.

Most people have been inoculated with Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, of which Chile has received nearly 15 million doses. The vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca-University of Oxford, which is only administered to women aged 55 and older and men over the age of 18, have been used to a lesser extent.

Chile also has authorized use of the vaccine developed by China’s CanSino Biologics and will begin receiving the first shipments before June.

Two of the factors contributing to Chile’s rapid immunization drive have been the country’s early negotiations with a variety of vaccine producers and its extensive primary health-care network.

The country, meanwhile, is starting to emerge from a second coronavirus wave that put its hospital system under severe strain. In recent weeks, the number of new confirmed cases has stabilized at around 6,000 per day, and intensive care units are gradually becoming less crowded.

Authorities responded this week by lifting confinement orders in 10 Santiago neighborhoods and pushed back by one hour a nationwide nighttime curfew, which now is in effect from 10 pm to 5 am.

Nevertheless, new confirmed coronavirus cases have risen by 11 percent over the past week and the positivity rate from 68,000 tests was above 10 percent in the most recent 24-hour period.

Chile has registered more than 1.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 28,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

That includes 7,682 new cases and 172 deaths over the past 24 hours. EFE


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