SANTIAGO – Nine months into a coronavirus outbreak that has caused severe damage, more details about vaccination plans are emerging. Thanks to deals made early on with pharmaceutical companies, Chile will get millions of vaccines in the first months of 2021. Over 15 million people can get the vaccine, authorities have said.
With over 15,000 deaths and over 550,000 cases of Covid-19, Chile is hit hard by the coronavirus, not to mention the economic damage the outbreak has caused. The virus is far from under control and authorities are already warning about a second outbreak in January. But after nine months, light is at the end of the tunnel. As more companies are developing coronavirus vaccines, several vaccines have been approved. Chile has struck deals with two major companies, Sinovac from China and AstraZeneca, and aims to start a vaccination campaign early next year.
On Tuesday, President Sebastián Piñera announced details. “Our goal is to start the vaccination process during the first quarter of next year and ensure availability for 15.2 million Chilean citizens,” he said. According to Piñera, those who have higher risk of getting infected, such as health personnel and transportation personnel, among others, will be vaccinated first. Risk groups such as elderly and chronically ill will follow. Piñera assured authorities are working on a nationwide distribution and vaccination plan. He said that the vaccines will be voluntary and free for all.
Whilst at least four companies are running trials in Chile, the Sinovac vaccine would be available from January. However, the Chinese vaccine is still not through the complete trial phase and approval remains pending.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which must be available from March, is the second one. However, this vaccine, developed with Oxford University, has generated some scientific controversy. Earlier claims by the company that the vaccine is at least 90% efficient were disputed after trials showed participants only got one dose, instead of the two necessary for a functioning coronavirus vaccine. Other test results suggest a 70% efficiency.