In early March, the Chile was cited as an example of a country with an advanced vaccination, unlike the South American neighbors.
Sebastian Piñera, the president prostrated by a crushing rejection of 90% of the Chilean population, was praised even by opponents.
Now, at the beginning of April, the country is closed – no one enters and no one leaves without special authorization – and with the majority of the population back in confinement. This time, it is so strict that people can only leave the house twice a week to buy basic necessities.
With seven million of its 19 million inhabitants vaccinated, in a program that became the most accelerated in the world, Chile should be in a much less precarious situation. What happened?
Like so many things in this pandemic, the answers are complex.
Piñera’s quickness in ensuring a good stock of vaccines has been counterbalanced by a multiplicity of negative factors, including a reopening considered to be early in movement restrictions; the problem common to Latin American countries with large numbers of the population in the informal economy and even a kind of collective fatigue, a psychological component that cannot be underestimated.
It is also possible, although there are no genetic tests proving it, that the Brazilian variant entered the country and propelled the increase of contagions.
Another reason speculated, and that must be treated with the greatest care in order not to lead to wrong conclusions: the comparatively lower effectiveness of CoronaVac, the vaccine most used in Chile.
If vaccination started in February, the number of cases should drop gradually, as was the case in Israel and the United Kingdom, where Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are mostly used.
In Turkey and Pakistan, where the vaccine produced by Sinovac is also used, the same phenomenon is happening.
In Pakistan, with the curiosity that both the President and the Prime Minister were Covid-19 after getting the vaccine – similar cases to Alberto Fernández, the Argentine president who received both doses of Sputinik V and tested positive last Friday.
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The emergency use of the Sinovac vaccine, which has increased its production capacity to two billion doses, has not yet been approved by the World Health Organization.
As it is not used in any rich country, with the exception of Hong Kong, which is part of China on paper, but not in the history of high development, attention is focused more on the problems faced by the AstraZeneca vaccine.
First, important European countries contested the effectiveness of the vaccine developed by Oxford for people over 65. They were corrected by the European Medicines Agency itself, but then there were a few dozen cases of embolism among younger women, leading to an inversion of recommendation: good for the elderly, suspicious for the youngest.
Oxford / AstraZeneca has not yet been approved in the United States. To complicate matters, there was an incident that does not directly involve the pharmaceutical company, but contributes to increasing the climate of distrust.
In a rare intervention, the Department of Health interfered with the production of the company Emergent BioSolutions due to a serious incident: there was an accidental mix of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which invalidated fifteen million doses.
By government determination, which is not common in the United States, the Johnson & Johnson took responsibility for the production of Emergent, which had received more than $ 600 million in official funds to expand its capacity to produce vaccines from other laboratories – AstraZeneca, pending approval, was already anticipating manufacturing.
Anthony Fauci, the government’s ubiquitous epidemiology advisor, has said that perhaps the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical vaccine won’t even be used in the United States, as contracts with other laboratories are already enough to vaccinate the entire American population several times.
Only recognized experts who are subject to peer review can analyze the advantages and possible disadvantages of the different vaccines, in addition to their side effects.
It is difficult to say, without in-depth studies, whether the cases of death are caused by the immunizer or would happen anyway. In the UK, there were 30 cases of venous cerebral thrombosis in 18 million people vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
It is clear that the advantages of vaccination, which are being reaped exceptionally by the British – just 10 dead per day and much more certain that the country’s reopening program can advance -, are incomparably greater.
But trying to ignore the possible mishaps only contributes to the insecurity and misinformation of the lay public.
With guaranteed vaccines in hand, it must be easier for Chile to overcome the bad phase, leaving the lesson that immunization does not solve everything, as if by magic; but without it, nothing can be resolved.
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