Many countries in Latin America were affected by the high death rates of covid-19 at the beginning of the pandemic when the coronavirus ravaged the entire region. Today, the situation is changing in many Latin American countries, where vaccination rates exceed those of European and North American countries and contribute to reducing deaths.
Vaccine deployment was slow at first, as getting them was a major problem. Just six months ago, Latin America and the Caribbean recorded slightly less than half of the deaths related to COVID-19 worldwide. Now, the region accounts for about 10% of COVID-19-related deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
This is due to the acceleration in the supply of European, American, Chinese, and national vaccines that several Latin American countries have received in the second half of this year, according to data from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Cuba, Chile, and Brazil are among the top ten countries in the world in terms of fully vaccinated people, according to statistics compiled by PAHO.
One of the reasons for these successful vaccination campaigns can be attributed to history: many Latin American countries have national vaccination campaigns against other diseases, such as polio, which have long enjoyed great prestige.
Cuba is, perhaps, the country that has performed the best in this regard, since its commitment to nationally created vaccines, approved for emergency use by drug regulatory bodies this summer, has paid off.
The country has the highest vaccination rate in the region and one of the highest in the world, with 84.1% of its inhabitants fully vaccinated, according to PAHO. In September, Cuba became the first country in the world to begin mass vaccination of children up to 2 years of age against covid.
Scientists claim that Cuban-made vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illness and death. The government requested approval from the World Health Organization for its vaccines in September.
Meanwhile, Brazil, which has one of the highest covid-19 death rates in the world, has emerged from its darkest days of the pandemic with a successful vaccination campaign. In major cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, more than 99% of the adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, Reuters reports.
Brazil has administered more than 315 million doses, with 65.7% of the population fully vaccinated, according to PAHO data as of December 23.
The record of Chile’s even better, with 85.6% of the fully vaccinated population. Uruguay has vaccinated 76.6% of its inhabitants and Argentina has a vaccination rate of 70%.
In Ecuador, 69.1% of its eligible population is already fully vaccinated. In that country, vaccination against covid-19 will be mandatory for eligible people from the age of five, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health said on Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to impose this measure on everyone. the eligible population. Vaccination will not be mandatory for those with pre-existing medical conditions, the Health Ministry statement said.
And in Peru, which has suffered the highest rate of deaths from covid-19 in the world, 63.9% of the eligible population is already fully vaccinated.
At the regional level, more than 868 million doses have been administered as of December 22 in Latin America and the Caribbean, PAHO reported, and around 57% of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean is fully vaccinated. This compares with 67.8% in Europe and 61.3% in the United States.
Still, PAHO warns that vaccination remains uneven across the Latin American and Caribbean region, “with a handful of countries likely not reaching the 40% vaccination target by the end of the year and many just barely exceeding the 50% threshold for complete immunization against covid-19 “.
Among the countries that continue to have problems with the deployment of vaccination are Jamaica and French Guiana, where 18.7% and 25.4% of people are fully vaccinated. Among the largest countries in the region, Mexico has barely exceeded the 50% threshold.
And as the omicron variant spreads, as in much of the world, Latin America is beginning to register a peak in cases. In the week ending December 23, the Americas (which includes the United States and Canada) reported more than 1.1 million new COVID-19 infections, representing a 6% increase in cases over the last week.
However, much of that increase was driven by cases in the United States, while PAHO reported an overall decrease in South American cases of 10.7% in cases and a 6.3% decrease in deaths in this week.
Bolivia was the outlier, as it reported a sharp increase in cases, as did some parts of the Caribbean, where a PAHO analysis showed that cases increased by 16%.
In addition to imported vaccines, Latin America is producing more of its vaccines. This month, PAHO Director-General Carissa Etienne celebrated the WHO approval of an AstraZeneca vaccine produced jointly by Argentina and Mexico, the first in Latin America.
“This is an important milestone for Latin America and highlights the importance of technology transfer to increase the availability of quality vaccines against COVID-19 in the region,” Etienne said.