Why does the coronavirus not give way in Chile despite the successful vaccination?

Santiago.- Hospitals on the verge of collapse, a positivity rate above the 10% and an incidence of more than 300 daily cases per million inhabitants. The picture looks like that of a country in full pandemic peak and without vaccines, but it corresponds to Chile, the second nation with the largest inoculated population in the world.

Although 52.7% of the population eligible to be vaccinated (15.2 of the 19 million inhabitants of the country) have already received the two doses and only Israel is ahead in inoculation speed, Chile can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The low effectiveness to cut the circulation of the virus of the Coronavac vaccine – elaborated by the Chinese laboratory Sinovac and the one that is mainly applied in Chile– it seems like one of the main causes.

But experts also point to “pandemic fatigue”, persistent flaws in the traceability of infections and the “misguided” deconfinement plan devised by the authorities.

Less efficient vaccine

“Vaccination has been successful, but to lower the transmission of coronavirus with the Sinovac vaccine we need to reach the 80% of the general population, not of the target population (which excludes minors), “José Miguel Bernucci, secretary general of the Chilean Medical College (Colmed), told Efe.

For Juan Carlos Said, Master in Public Health from Imperial College (London), “if in all age groups there remains a 20% of the unvaccinated population, the hospital crisis can last for months. ”

The government of Sebastián Piñera set the objective of vaccinating the entire target population before July 1 and, one month after the goal, the percentage of people who have received at least one dose is at 70.2%.

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This means, Bernucci pointed out, that there are still about 5 million people who have not received any dose and that “they are susceptible to becoming ill, infecting and developing a severe disease.”

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“Coronavac, unlike other vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech (used in Israel and which prevents 95% infections), it is not as efficient in preventing new infections, but it is in avoiding serious cases, “Darwin Acuña, president of the Chilean Society of Intensive Medicine (Sochimi), assured Efe.

According to a study released by the Chilean Government on the effectiveness of Coronavac in the real population, it prevents 65.3% of the cases of Covid-19 symptomatic, prevents in 86% the chances of dying from the disease and in a 90.3% admission to intensive care units 14 days after the second injection was given.

A report from Brazil’s Butantan Institute revealed on Monday that the coronavirus can be controlled if 75% of the population is vaccinated: in the city of Serrana, where the investigation took place, deaths fell 95%, the hospitalizations 86% and symptomatic cases 80%.

“We are going to need to vaccinate three times to have collective immunity,” the medical adviser to the Ministry of Health Rafael Arao told a Uruguayan media this weekend.

The World Health Organization (WHO) just approved this Tuesday the emergency use of Coronavac, which requires two doses and is a killed virus vaccine. It is the second Chinese medicine that obtains the green light from the body, after the one developed by Sinopharm.

“It never stabilized”

Chile has been experiencing an upturn in infections for days, after a second wave that began in March and that led the authorities to decree quarantine for more than 90% of the population.

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On May 28, 8,680 new infections were registered, the second highest figure in the entire pandemic, which leaves almost 1.4 million infected and more than 29,300 deaths.

“We have never managed to stabilize the pandemic or reduce infections to controllable levels, as Israel and the United States did,” Bernucci lamented.

Currently, there are more than 3,200 patients in intensive care, of which the 63% he has not been vaccinated, according to the ministry.

Although 17.1 of the 22 million vaccines he has received Chile They are from Coronavac, 3.6 million have also arrived from Pfizer -whose use in adolescents between 12 and 16 years old was authorized on Monday in the country-, 693 thousand from Astrazeneca and 300 thousand from Cansino.

“In no country in the world has the vaccine been the only solution, trusting everything to vaccination is a public health error,” said Acuña.

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Experts insist on the need to continue to increase self-care measures and rethink the “step-by-step plan” for the return to normality and the very long quarantines.

“Confinements should not last more than 21 days and mobility should not exceed 30%, which implies that the activities considered essential must be reduced, “said Bernucci.

The scientific community has also been very critical of the mobility pass launched recently and that grants more freedom to those vaccinated, and denounced in a joint letter that, with such viral circulation, “this is not the time.”

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