Chile is the most advanced country in Latin America for Covid-19 vaccination, but it is facing a sharp upsurge in infections which has led the government to impose new strict confinement on more than 80% of the population.
With a third of its population partially vaccinated and 17% having received both doses, Chile is the most advanced country in Latin America for coronavirus Covid-19 vaccination. He nevertheless faces a brutal increase in infections which led the government to impose a new confinement that came into force on the 27th March 2021.
In this country of 19 million inhabitants, a particularly effective campaign has already enabled six million people to receive at least one dose of vaccine and more than three million to be fully vaccinated. However, since March 27th, more than 80% of the population are under a new total confinement, without even the possibility of going out to buy basic goods on weekends.
While health authorities hope that the first effects of vaccination will be felt in April, the government of conservative Sebastian Pinera has called on the population to make “one last effort” to defeat the pandemic. Health Minister Enrique Paris acknowledged that containment was a “tough, but necessary” measure to control the virus, especially in the metropolitan region of Santiago de Chile, the most populous region in the country with 7.1 million people. inhabitants.
On March 25th, more than 7,000 contaminations were recorded in 24 hours, the second-highest figure since the start of the pandemic. In total, the country has recorded 962,321 reported cases and 22,587 deaths from Covid-19.
The effects of the vaccination expected from mid-April
The vaccination campaign began on the 24th December 2020, first for medical staff, then from February 3rd for the population, starting with the oldest or most exposed people.
However, vaccination and the rise in infections “are phenomena that evolve on completely different paths,” Darwin Acuna, president of the Chilean Society for Intensive Care, told AFP. “The effect of the vaccine for the population most at risk has not yet been observed, because the second dose for this population at risk has just been administered [about 10 days ago]”, he explains. before adding that, by mid-April, the country should “see a real effect on the need for resuscitation beds” for this population and on the mortality figures.
As in other countries, resuscitators notice differences compared to the first wave, with younger and more severely affected patients. “It seems to be more aggressive than last year. There are patients who arrive almost directly in intensive care to be intubated, ”Hector Ugarte, a doctor at San Pablo hospital in Coquimbo, a coastal town located 460 km north of Santiago told AFP.
On March 25th, authorities confirmed that after the British variant, 45 cases of the Brazilian variant had been identified. This P.1 mutation – a much more virulent mutation of SARS-CoV-2 – is responsible for an epidemic outbreak in Brazil and in several of its South American neighbours. In Chile, the occupancy rate of intensive care units is now 95%.