Most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are making preparations to immunize their citizens against coronavirus, but analysts say the region may take more than a year to achieve “herd immunity”.
Latin America accounts for nearly 8.4% of the global population, but represents 30% of the world’s 1.6 million COVID-19 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and the World Bank.
To vaccinate their people more quickly, some countries are signing deals with more than two pharmaceutical companies for vaccines. Mexico, for example, is purchasing more than three vaccine candidates, including China’s Sinovac.
More vaccines, analysts warn, may complicate immunization programs, because each vaccine features different storage, dilution and dosage guidelines.
However, it is clear that politicians across the region are speeding up efforts to put an end to the virus that has left their economies in shambles, leaving millions of people jobless.
Argentina is purchasing Russia’s Sputnik vaccine in an attempt to immunize at least 10 million people by the end of February 2021.
But Russia is still testing to determine whether its vaccine can be injected into people over 60. The South American country has now turned to US pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna.
Argentina has nearly 1.5 confirmed cases and 40,000 deaths.
Brazil is hoping to receive 24 million doses of various vaccines by January 2021. According to the country’s Health Ministry, it will get 500,000 doses from Pfizer, 9 million from China and 15 million from Astrazeneca.
If everything goes according to plan, the country will have accumulated more than 37 million vaccine doses by February.
Latin America’s largest economy is the worst victim of coronavirus, with nearly 185,000 people dying of the virus in the country to date.
Colombia is expecting to receive 40 million doses of various vaccines shortly. It has already signed deals with both Pfizer and Astrazeneca.
The Andean country will launch a mass vaccination program in the first week of 2021. However, it will be July or August before young adults receive a shot.
Ecuador will begin a mass vaccination program in March 2021. However, senior citizens and healthcare workers will have the jab by January or February.
The country has already inked a deal with Pfizer and is seeking to purchase Moderna vaccine as well.
Mexico has already locked in more than 190 million vaccine doses from various organizations, including Pfizer.
But the country of 125 million people will only achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021.
Pfizer will be the first to deliver its vaccine in Mexico. China has promised that it will deliver 35 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine in January next year.
Chile has approved the Pfizer vaccine, assuring its citizens that it would make the first 20,000 doses available before the end of this month. Around 15 of its 18 million people will be immunized against the virus by the end of June next year.
The Bolivian government has promised its citizens that it would make 20 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available in the first week of January 2021.
Costa Rica is hoping to begin its vaccination program in the first quarter of 2021. It has already approved Pfizer’s vaccine. The government is saying it will purchase all the vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The country is hoping to immunize 80% of its population by the end of 2021.
Venezuela has placed an order for 10 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, hoping to launch an immunization program in the first quarter of 2021. The country is hoping to produce the Russian vaccine at its own manufacturing facilities.
The Caribbean country is hoping to get hold of vaccines in March next year. Healthcare workers will be the first to receive the jab.
Canada has already begun to vaccinate its citizens against the pandemic. The North American country has contracts with six vaccine makers and is currently administering Pfizer’s vaccine. Moderna will also deliver a few million doses.