100 days ago vaccination against the coronavirus began in the first Latin American countries, and now many of the nations suffer from the third wave of the pandemic. The immunization process in Latin America is one of the slowest on the planet. The exception is Chile, which, however, has been forced to close borders due to an increase in infections weeks after easing some restrictions. In Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay, infections are also soaring.
Latin America is approaching the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warns that in the entire American continent the new phase of the emergency would be longer than the previous ones.
“Since January 1, 2021, there have been more than 19.7 million cases registered in the Americas and we have lost more than 475,000 people in the region, which is equivalent to 1,000 totally full type 7478 aircraft,” he said this week. the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne.
The official warns that the slow vaccination cocktail and the lifting of isolation restrictions cause a new increase in infections, even in countries that have already overcome the first wave. PAHO urges to maintain adequate containment measures.
“Let me be clear on this. Without preventive actions, our region could face an even longer wave than the previous one ”, warned Etienne.
The warning came just before the region was 100 days from the start of vaccination this Friday. However, the date comes amid delays in dose distributions and while some countries see a vertiginous increase in the daily number of infected. This happens in places like Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay.
Brazil: insufficient vaccines, new variants of the virus and hospital collapse
The situation in Brazil is the most critical in Latin America and one of the worst in the world. Since 2020 it has remained the second country with the highest number of infections and deaths from the pandemic globally, although proportional to its population of 211 million, one of the largest in the hemisphere.
Several states in Brazil are in critical condition and hospitals are collapsed by the pandemic, World Health Organization epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove said on Thursday.
“In fact, there is a very serious situation in Brazil at the moment, where we have several states in critical condition,” he said, adding that many intensive care units are more than 90% occupied.
In recent months, the appearance of at least three variants of the virus has brought a major blow to a situation that was already difficult to control. The country has been struggling with the South African, British mutations and the one first detected last November in its Amazon region.
As if that were not enough, last Wednesday, the director of the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, Dimas Covas, reported that a case of another variant was detected, similar to the one seen for the first time in South Africa. The patient has no history of travel to that country.
The African variant alarms public health experts, as there are doubts about the efficacy of current vaccines against it.
In the midst of all this problem, vaccination, a way that would help to curb infections in general, is given by drops. 11% of the population have received the first dose of the vaccine and only 3.2% are immunized with the two required injections.
Colombia: infections soar and set a new record
The pandemic is triggered in almost all regions of the country. On Thursday, the Ministry of Health reported 11,449 new infections, the highest number since last January 28 when 12,270 cases were registered. The country accumulates 2.4 million positive diagnoses.
That Thursday was also the day that more people died from the virus, since February 18: 192 deaths, for a total of 63,614, according to the Johns Hopkins University count.
On March 23, President Iván Duque announced new measures and from March 31, until at least next April 5, the restriction of entry to supermarkets, banks and shopping centers will be resumed, according to the last digit of the identification document. national. This will apply to all municipalities where ICU occupancy exceeds 70%.
The pandemic hits Colombia so hard that cases have doubled and even tripled compared to three weeks ago. This has happened in places like Bogotá – the capital of the country – and in the departments of Antioquia, Atlántico and Valle del Cauca.
On April 17 this country will be two months after starting its vaccination process. On Wednesday the Government reported that it has inoculated two million people and that it is a good advance, with a daily average of 103,828 doses and an availability of 3,362,494 antidotes. However, it is still far from achieving widespread immunization for its more than 50 million inhabitants.
Chile, between the leadership in vaccination and the rebound in infections
Chile seems to be an exceptional case. Although the country is among the top three in the world in vaccination rates against Covid-19, in recent days it has also seen an increase in new infections, which has forced it to close its borders.
For epidemiological experts, it does not mean that vaccines do not serve to stop the pandemic and they highlight various causes of this situation. Among them is that the vaccination came at a time when the country was already overwhelmed with the spread of infections. One of the reasons is the flexibility of measures, especially weeks after the end of the summer holidays in the southern hemisphere, when more people leave home for the holidays.
Experts also assure that Chileans are tired of the restrictions and emphasize that the country did not achieve an effective reduction of the disease before the antidotes arrived.
This April 2, the nation surpassed the barrier of 8,000 new daily cases for the first time and the number of patients in the active stage of the disease set a new record, with 45,202 people.
On the other hand, medical experts point out that the new Brazilian and British variants are decisive in the acceleration of infections. Faced with this situation, on Thursday, the Government of Sebastián Piñera announced the closure of borders for a month.
Uruguay: saturated hospitals on the border with Brazil
The Intensive Care Center of the Rivera public hospital, in the north of Uruguay, on the border with Brazil, registers a 100% occupancy.
The situation in this area is chaotic and difficult to overcome, especially because of the customs of yesteryear. The inhabitants of this city and neighboring Santana do Livramento share a binational routine: many live on one side of the border and work on the other.
This is a critical situation for the country, but not the only one. On Thursday, Uruguay exceeded 1,000 deaths from Covid-19, with a new record of 35 deaths in a single day, according to data from the National Emergency System (Sinae).
In Montevideo, the capital, there is a hospital occupancy of around 70%. 41.9% correspond to patients with Covid-19.
With the entire country in red, according to the Harvard risk index, which establishes more than 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, different medical and scientific societies in the country asked the national government over the weekend for “effective measures” to reduce the mobility in the face of what they consider an “imminent health catastrophe”.
This small country of 3.5 million inhabitants registers 108,188 accumulated infections and 1,009 deaths due to the pandemic.
Until now, Uruguay had been one of the Latin American countries that had best managed the pandemic, both for its epidemiological control and for the decisions it made regarding the educational system. But the pandemic does not give truce.
With Reuters and EFE