SANTIAGO, Chile – After negotiating early access to millions of doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, Chile is rapidly inoculating its inhabitants faster than other U.S. countries and is considered to be the world’s number one source of access to herd immunity.
But experts say the country’s fast and efficient vaccination drive – with only Israel, the UAE and Seychelles vaccinating a large portion of their population – has given Chile a false sense of security and contributed to a sharp rise in new infections and deaths that are overloading. Health care system.
An increase in cases, but more than a third of Chile’s population has received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, which serves as a precautionary story for other nations looking toward vaccination drives to quickly end a potential era. Economics, closed borders and social distance. The increase in cases has led to a new set of strict lockdown measures that have restricted most of the country’s mobility, affecting about 14 million people.
An epidemiologist at the Sabine Vaccine Institute in Washington DC, Dr. “When the transmission rate is high, the vaccine does not immediately rein in new infections,” said Dennis Garrett, and with new infections, which are more contagious, we are not likely to see a major impact until most of the population is vaccinated. ”
The severity of the crisis in Chile became clear on Sunday, as President Sebastian Pinera called on Congress to delay a vote in early April for the selection of delegates to form the new constitution and other officials by six weeks.
“Protecting the health of our compatriots has always been our number one priority,” said Mr Pinera. Said in a statement on Sunday, Argued that the current state of the epidemic is not conducive to voting “democratic, inclusive and safe”.
While more than six million of the country’s 1 million people have been vaccinated, the increase in infection has left intensive care units with fewer beds to survive and the system to collapse.
Last week, 7,626 new covid-19 cases were reported in Chile in a single day, a record and the rate of new infections doubled in the past month. An overflow corpse was made over the weekend at the coastal Valparaiso’s main hospital. Chilean health officials have identified cases of new variants that were first identified in the United Kingdom and Brazil.
The regional president of the Chilean Medical Association, Dr. Francesca Crispy said 20 to 30 percent of medical professionals in the country have gone on leave because they are too bored. Many people are experiencing mental health problems and suicidal ideation.
“No one questions whether the vaccination campaign is a success story.” “But it gave a misunderstanding of safety to people who felt we were all vaccinated against the epidemic.”
The government moved much faster in November as its borders reopened and restrictions on businesses eased, he said. Said Crispy. In January, after strictly banning the flow of people across provincial borders, Chileans in the country created a permission system to go on summer vacation.
Dr. “People who arrived in the country had no control or trace and many travel abroad on vacation,” Crispy said. She “seriously misled” vacation permits.
Soon, Chile allowed the reopening of gyms, churches, malls, restaurants, and even casinos. Despite experts urging caution, the government is sticking to its plan to reopen schools on March 1.
As people began to move and consume with greater ease, the concern of doctors increased, especially since the government did not have a system for effective contact.
An infectious disease specialist who teaches at the University of Chile and treats Kovid-19 patients at a private clinic in Santiago. “The situation we’re in is the same one we saw coming up,” said Claudia Cortes. “More than four million people are traveling across the country. This led to a nationwide outbreak, largely due to the virus contained in some large areas. ”
Health Minister Enrique Paris has defended the vacation permits system, but acknowledged that the government should be more assertive that the virus posed a greater threat as Chileans became more vulnerable to wearing masks and gatherings.
“The error probably wouldn’t have been a clear risk, so those who got those permits could get the necessary instructions.” He said in early March.
Several other countries in the region are struggling to rein in infectious diseases. In Brazil, some state hospitals have waiting lists of critically ill patients. Doctors in Paraguay say the virus is spreading rapidly and they are facing a shortage of basic medicines.
Chile is better equipped than any of its neighbors to control the virus. Rodrigo Yez, a senior Foreign Ministry official who oversaw the vaccine procurement program, said Chile had managed to secure large quantities immediately after manufacturing began by decisive and early action.
The government has relied primarily on Chinese-made coronavirus and Pfizer shots, but it has also received orders from other suppliers to speed up the process.
Mr Yez said the government’s campaign to encourage Chileans to be vaccinated had been effective in reducing the percentage of people voting for vaccines in public opinion polls.
“We expect the effects of the vaccines to be felt in mid-April,” he said in an interview.
Pascal Bonefoy reported from Santiago. Ernesto Lando reports from Rio de Janeiro.