Health

Dozen LatAm countries lean on Pfizer, AstraZeneca for vaccine rollout

Madrid, Jan 28 (efe-epa).- The Covid-19 vaccines co-developed by two multinational pharmaceutical corporations – New York-based Pfizer and British-Swedish AstraZeneca – are the products of choice for at least 11 countries in Latin America.

A large group of countries, however, are waiting to receive vaccines through the Covax mechanism, a World Health Organization (WHO)-led effort that aims to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have access to coronavirus vaccines.

Still other governments have opted for a pair of vaccines developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and China’s Sinovac Biotech: the Sputnik V and CoronaVac, respectively.

With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Latin America now standing at more than 16.7 million (9 million of them in Brazil) and rising quickly, the nations of that region face the urgent task of inoculating the majority of their populations in the near future.

THE PIONEERS

Shortly after the United States became one of the first countries to launch a vaccination campaign, the first plane loaded with Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine for the Latin American market arrived on Dec. 23 in Mexico, which purchased 34.4 million doses.

The Mexican rollout began a day later but is advancing slowly, with only 624,105 total doses having been administered and just 28,715 people having received the necessary second dose of that vaccine.

The government’s goal is to inoculate all health personnel by the end of January and then start vaccinating the elderly population in February.

The objective for 2022 is to have inoculated all 126 million Mexicans free of charge using Pfizer’s vaccine, as well as those produced by AstraZeneca-University of Oxford (77.4 million doses negotiated), China’s CanSino Biologics (35 million) and Russia’s Gamaleya (24 million).

VACCINE ROLLOUTS IN CHILE, COSTA RICA, ECUADOR AND PANAMA

Chile, which also has chosen Pfizer, has likewise been an immunization pioneer in Latin America, having administered at least one dose of that vaccine to 56,549 people through Jan. 26 and both doses to nearly 10,000 people.

Now immersed in a second wave of the pandemic, that nation of 17.6 million people is counting on using 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 10 million doses of Sinovac’s jab and 6 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot.

Costa Rica, home to 5 million inhabitants, is looking to inoculate 1.5 million people with the Pfizer vaccine, 500,000 individuals with AstraZeneca’s shot and 1 million people through the World Health Organization’s Covax mechanism.

It has so far administered 45,707 initial doses of the Pfizer jab and 2,421 second doses.

Ecuador, for its part, launched a “pilot phase” on Jan. 21 that will entail administering 8,000 vaccines to health workers, elderly adults and nursing home personnel.

The country of 17 million people plans to receive a total of 2 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine this year, 5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s shot, 4 million doses from the New York-based Covaxx company and 8 million through the Covax mechanism.

Panama, with a population of around 4.2 million, began its immunization campaign timidly on Jan. 20 after receiving a first shipment of 12,840 doses from Pfizer.

SLOW-MOVING GIANT

Brazil, which has come under criticism for a delayed start to its vaccine rollout, has imported 2 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from India and has 10 million more doses of the vaccine developed by Sinovac.

That supply, however, is nowhere near sufficient to inoculate its 212 million inhabitants.

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