Mexico begins COVID vaccine roll-out

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Chile and Costa Rica begin a rollout of coronavirus vaccinations on Thursday and join Mexico for being among the first Latin American countries to launch mass vaccination campaigns.

Mexico has started its mass vaccination program with a nurse who is the first to show jab in the country with one of the world’s highest deaths in COVID-19.

The TV broadcast came a day after the first 3,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived by courier from Belgium.

Medical staff were first in line when vaccinations began in Mexico City, the epicenter of the current wave of infections. The Central American country now has more people hospitalized because of COVID-19 than it saw on top of the first wave of the pandemic in late July.

Medical staff waiting to receive the first of two injections of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at General Hospital in Mexico City [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

The health department says 18,301 people are in hospitals across Mexico to be treated for the disease that can be caused by coronavirus. That is 0.4 percent more than in July. In the capital Mexico City, about 85 percent of hospital beds are in use.

The state of Morelos, just south of the capital, became the fourth of Mexico’s 32 states to declare a “red” alarm, which will lead to a partial shutdown and closure of non-essential businesses starting Thursday.

Mexico has recorded more than 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 120,000 deaths associated with the disease, the fourth highest death toll in the world, according to a Johns Hopkins University figure.

Meanwhile, the first 10,000 doses of an order for 10 million of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reached Chile on Thursday with inoculation of health workers in the hardest-hit sectors starting immediately.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera looks like workers carry first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Santiago airport [Ivan Alvarado/Reuters]

Chile is the first South American country to start vaccinating against COVID. Costa Rica also received its first shipment of Pfizer doses on Wednesday, while Argentina expected the first doses of Russia’s Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said the country has secured 30 million coronavirus vaccines from three suppliers, enough to inoculate 15 million people – more than two-thirds of the population – in the first half of 2021.

The doses arrived at Santiago Airport from Pfizer’s production center, the city of Puurs in Belgium, just before noon. 7 local time (10:00 GMT) Christmas Eve, according to a statement from the presidency.

The doses were transferred by police helicopter to a logistics center in the capital Santiago with vaccinations to begin later in the morning.

A personal protective equipment healthcare professional (PPE) takes a cotton swab from a woman for a rapid COVID-19 test during the COVID-19 outbreak in Vina del Mar, Chile [Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters]

Chile is among the Latin American countries that have entered into most bilateral agreements with pharmaceutical companies, including agreements with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinovac, as well as the global vaccine distribution scheme COVAX

Meanwhile, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado told Quesada that a news conference would begin vaccinations there on Thursday.

“It could be the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” he added.

Costa Rica’s manager was at Juan Santamaria airport in the capital San Jose to greet a flight that delivered the first 9,750 doses of the vaccine, which arrived at 6 p.m. 21 (03:00 GMT Thursday).

Dosage boxes with doses of the Sputnik V COVID vaccine are loaded at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow [Argentina Presidency/Handout via Reuters]

Costa Rica announced last week that they had approved the vaccine, with health workers and the elderly now expected to be the first to receive jabs.

The country of about five million people had registered more than 160,000 cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday with 2,065 deaths.

Like many others in the region, its health system has been severely affected by the number of infections.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Argentina is expected to receive 25 million doses of Russia’s controversial Sputnik V vaccine on Thursday.



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