SANTIAGO — During a press conference, President Sebastián Piñera announced that Chile has reached agreements with international companies to acquire Covid-19 vaccines. The agreements will allow the country to have 32.4 million doses, once the vaccine is approved by the World Health Organization. Piñera also talked about a potential vaccination plan.
With laboratories around the world working on vaccines for Covid-19, Chile has already started negotiations to acquire doses once the vaccines are ready. President Piñera announced three agreements that will allow the country to obtain more than 30 million doses, as each person will likely need two.
All three of the would-be vaccine providers are still on clinical trials, but the president said that “they are the most promising.” He also said that with the doses obtained, 80 percent of the population would be vaccinated.
According to data from Johns Hopkins, already 31.6 million people around the world have been infected with Covid-19. With 449,903, Chile has the 12th highest number of confirmed cases. As of Sept. 23, however, only a small fraction, 12,393, are considered to be active cases. Piñera said that “for more than three months now, we have seen a significant decrease in cases.”
— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) September 22, 2020
The first agreement was signed with Covax, a global initiative convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), which aims to speed up the search for a vaccine against Covid-19. According to WHO, Covax is working on manufacturing capabilities and buying supply ahead of time “so that 2 billion doses can be fairly distributed by the end of 2021.”
The agreement was signed by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sept. 22 and, according to Piñera, it will allow Chile to obtain eight million doses of the vaccine.
The second agreement, also signed on Sept. 22, was reached with Pfizer and BioNTech, from the US and Germany. This pact means another 10 million doses for the country.
According to Piñera — and if all goes well with the clinical trials — the delivery schedule will start at the beginning of 2021, but, the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Chilean Public Health Institute have to approve the vaccine first.
The third agreement is with AstraZeneca (working together with Oxford University). It has not yet been signed, but Piñera said that “the government has manifested its intention to buy and has already made reservations.” This third agreement would allow Chile to obtain 14.4 million doses.
In addition to working on agreements to secure vaccines, the government is also working on a vaccination plan. President Piñera said that once a “safe and effective” vaccine is available, some groups will be prioritized.
The first to get the vaccine will be the most vulnerable and at-risk groups, including health workers, people over 65, and chronically-ill patients. According to the government’s calculation, this means 5 million people.
After the higher risk groups have received the vaccine, “we will vaccinate starting with the oldest age range, until we reach the youngest.”
Fernanda Gándara is currently finishing her journalism degree at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She’s passionate about writing, environmental issues and women empowerment. You can find her on Twitter as @FerGMarchant