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COVID-19 and its effects in Latin America

Follow the main news about coronavirus and its impacts in Latin America

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  • September 25, 21 - 11:01 am - LABS

    After Chile and Brazil, it’s Mexico’s turn to start vaccinating teenagers

    On October 1st, teenagers between 12 and 17 years old will be able to register to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Mexico. By the middle of the month this group will begin to be immunized, said the undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López-Gatell.

    He explained that through the government’s platform, children between 12 and 17 years old who suffer from some type of disability or comorbidity can be registered. Unlike the national vaccination strategy for adults over 18 years of age, the application modules will be located in hospitals and will be permanent.

    “We are going to use the infrastructure of the health system itself, that is, in the medical units where these people are treated, which are mostly second-level hospitals and referral hospitals, it is where we are going to put the permanent vaccination stations, they will not be temporary If not, they will be permanent,” he explained.

  • September 24, 21 - 11:43 am - LABS

    Vaccine tourism to the U.S. ends in November

    Vaccine tourism to the United States will end in November, said the White House. As of that month, travelers who wish to enter the country must be fully vaccinated, and only by immunizers approved by CDC and those on the list for emergency use of the World Health Organization (WHO): Pfizer/BioNTech; AstraZeneca; Janssen (Johnson & Johnson); Moderna; Sinopharm and Sinovac’s Coronavac.

    However, four vaccines would be outside the list: Sputnik V (from Russia), Novavax (U.S.), and Abdala and Soberana (Cuba).

    It is not yet clear what the case will be for people who receive a dose of each vaccine. Argentina, for example, was one of the first countries to widely use Spunitk V. In August, however, the country’s government announced that it would offer a second dose of Moderna or AstraZeneca to those first vaccinated with Sputnik V due to the delay in the arrival of new shots from the Russian vaccine.

    Sputnik V was also used in Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

    The decision can boost the U.S. economy

    According to Reuters, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Thursday that the decision by the Biden administration to lift international travel restrictions in early November will be a boost to the U.S. economy, especially for tourist destinations like New York and for business travel.

    Raimondo said the decision announced Monday to allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to fly to the United States “is huge. I think it will really be a boost to our economy, it will certainly be a boost to travel, tourism, hospitality.” To address COVID-19 concerns, the U.S. has barred most foreign nationals from coming to the United States who have recently been in 33 countries including China, South Africa, Brazil, India, and much of Europe.

  • September 22, 21 - 5:54 pm - LABS

    Brazil’s Fiocruz is selected by WHO as the development center of a new COVID-19 vaccine in Latin America

    According to the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, Brazil‘s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (​Fiocruz) was selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the center in Latin America for the development and production of an RNA vaccine at the preclinical stage.

    The vaccine candidate is based on self-replicating RNA technology (the same one used in Pfizer‘s and Moderna‘s immunizers), and expresses not only Spike protein, but also N protein, for better immune response. Once developed, the vaccine will undergo WHO’s pre-qualification process, which ensures compliance with the highest international standards to ensure its quality, safety, and efficacy.

    The worldwide call for this selection was launched in April this year. About 30 Latin American companies and entities signed up. Fiocruz was selected through its Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz).

    Molecular diagnosis kit for coronavirus
    Molecular diagnosis kit for coronavirus from Bio-Manguinhos / Fiocruz. Photo: Bernardo Portela/Fiocruz Imagens
  • September 20, 21 - 6:58 pm - LABS

    Brazil’s anti-vaccine president Jair Bolsonaro may announce dose donations for poorer neighbors

    According to the newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo, Brazilian diplomats are “pulling their strings” to convince President Jair Bolsonaro to announce a donation of vaccines against COVID-19 to poorer countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Paraguay and Haiti, during his speech at the UN General Assembly.

    Since the beginning of his government, Bolsonaro has been portrayed in the international press as a leader who threatens democracy, human rights, and the environment in Brazil. Despite having questioned the effectiveness of vaccines over the past year, Bolsonaro is expected to celebrate, in front of international leaders, that the country has advanced in vaccination more than many wealthy nations and could become a “regional hub” for immunization production.

    At the same time, Bolsonaro has created problems for the trip’s organizers, according to Reuters. Bolsonaro is the only G20 president not vaccinated against COVID-19 yet. The president claims that he doesn’t need to be vaccinated because he has a high antibody count — which doesn’t mean he can’t be reinfected — and talks about the possibility of being vaccinated only “after the last Brazilian gets vaccinated”.

    This Monday, Bolsonaro met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who “recommended” him the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

    Despite the statement made to Reuters by diplomats that other meetings were being negotiated, the only one that has been confirmed is with the far-right president of Poland, Andrzej Duda.

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro leaves the UK Consulate General after meeting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Alan Santos/Presidency of Brazil

    However, New York City requires residents and visitors to present a vaccination certificate to frequent bars, restaurants, and shops and has tried to impose the same policy on the United Nations. The UN — which does not need to follow the city’s policy — chose to keep its “code of honor”, the confidence that the heads of state who enter the place will be fully vaccinated.

  • September 06, 21 - 2:23 pm - Reuters

    Chile’s regulator authorizes Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine for children over 6 years old

    Chile‘s health regulator on Monday approved the use of Chinese laboratory Sinovac‘s COVID-19 vaccine for children over the age of six, allowing them to be included in the country’s mass, rapid immunization program.

    The South American country has used Sinovac’s formula as the flagship of its successful program, which has already been completed by more than 13 million of its 19 million people.

    Until now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the only one used in children aged 12 and older, and Colombia recently gave nod to the vaccination of people over 12 years old with this vaccine.

    (Translated and co-written by LABS)

  • August 26, 21 - 5:06 pm - LABS

    Colombia authorizes vaccination of people over 12 years old

    President Iván Duque announced that, starting on August 28, the entire population over 12 years old is allowed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with Pfizer‘s vaccine, the only one authorized by health regulators for this age group.

    Colombia had already authorized the immunization of young people between 15 and 19 years old.

    According to Health Minister Fernando Ruíz, 83% of people over 50 have already received the first dose, and 71% the second dose, but the country still has 2.7 million people to be vaccinated.

  • August 26, 21 - 9:03 am - LABS

    Pfizer and BioNTech sign deal with Brazilian Eurofarma to produce COVID-19 vaccine for LatAm

    Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday they have signed an agreement with Brazilian drugmaker Eurofarma to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine they developed for distribution in Latin America.

    To facilitate Eurofarma’s manufacturing, the companies said technical transfer activities on-site development, and equipment installation will begin immediately.

    According to the agreement, Eurofarma will receive the product from facilities in the U.S and the manufacturing of doses in Brazil will start in 2022.

    At full operational capacity, annual production is expected to exceed 100 million doses. All doses will be distributed exclusively in Latin America. “Our new collaboration with Eurofarma expands our global supply chain network, helping us continue to provide fair and equitable access to our vaccine,” Albert Bourla, president and CEO of Pfizer, said.

    To date, Pfizer and BioNTech have shipped more than 1.3 billion doses of their vaccine against COVID-19 to more than 120 countries and territories in all regions of the the world.

  • August 25, 21 - 1:07 pm - LABS

    Brazil announces third dose for immunosuppressed people over 70 years old

    On Wednesday, Brazil‘s Ministry of Health announced that a third booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to immunosuppressed people over 70 years old, starting in the second half of September. This third dose will preferably be from Pfizer/BioNTech, and, secondly, Janssen or Oxford/AstraZeneca.

    In addition, starting in September Brazil will anticipate the interval between the first and second dose of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, from the current 12 weeks to 8 weeks.

    Photo: Shutterstock

    Both measures are a response to the rise in COVID-19 cases caused mainly by variants such as gamma (Brazilian) and delta (Indian). The latter already account for most of the infections in Rio de Janeiro, today the epicenter of the disease in Brazil.

    The ministry did not mention CoronaVac, a Covid-19 vaccine from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac that is being bottled in Brazil by the Butantan Institute, linked to the government of the State of São Paulo.

    As pointed out by Reuters, CoronaVac, which kicked off the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in Brazil in January, is frequently attacked by President Jair Bolsonaro, even without scientific basis. Bolsonaro is a political enemy of the governor of São Paulo, João Doria.

    “These decisions were taken together with Conass (the National Council of Health Secretaries), Conasems (the National Council of Municipal Health Secretaries), and the Technical Advisory Chamber on Immunization COVID-19 (Cetai) of our ministry,” said the Brazilian Health Ministry in a statement.

    The second half of September was chosen as the date for the start of the vaccine boost because it is also when the Brazilian government hopes to have vaccinated the entire population of the country with at least one dose. Until Tuesday, according to data from the Ministry of Health, 123.9 million Brazilians had received the first dose of the vaccine against the disease (about 59% of adults), while 55.7 million (or 26.5% of adults ) were fully immunized.

  • August 22, 21 - 6:22 pm - Reuters

    Brazil registered 14,404 COVID-19 cases on Sunday

    Brazil registered 318 new deaths caused by COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total to 574,527 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

    Last Sunday, the country had recorded 270 new deaths caused by COVID-19 and 13,957 new infections.

    The country also had 14,404 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total to about 20.57 million records of the disease.

    (Translated by LABS)

  • August 20, 21 - 12:00 pm - Reuters

    Eager for vaccines, Latin Americans rise vaccination rates in the region

    While in the U.S. vaccination has slowed significantly with vaccine hesitancy, Latin America‘s countries are eager to vaccinate, and now they’re inoculating at a higher pace than the U.S., reported The Wall Street Journal.

    Latin Americans usually trust vaccines, despite of their wealthiest counterparts. In Chile, for instance, roughly two thirds of population are fully vaccinated.

    AstraZeneca antibody cocktail avoids COVID-19: trial met primary endpoint

    AstraZeneca announced on Friday that its antibody therapy has achieved the primary goal of preventing COVID-19 in a late-stage study, putting the British drugmaker on track to be able to offer an alternative to vaccines for people with weakened immune systems.

    After the first monoclonal treatment reached good results with phase 3, the company intends to make it available to vulnerable populations worldwide

    The company said the cocktail has two types of antibodies, first discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, decreased the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 by 77%.

    More than 75% of participants had chronic problems, including some linked to a reduced immune reaction to the vaccination, AstraZeneca said.

    The results bring relief to the drugmaker, which in June reported that a smaller late-stage trial provided no evidence that the antibody cocktail, known for now as AZD7442, protected people who had contact with a person infected with the disease.

    The UK-Swedish company, which faces challenges distributing its Covid-19 vaccine, is also working to adapt existing drugs to fight the virus.

    (Co-written with LABS)

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