Chile, Costa Rica begin Covid-19 vaccine rollout

SANTIAGO (AFP) – Chile and Costa Rica began a rollout of coronavirus vaccinations yesterday, joining Mexico among the first Latin American countries to begin mass immunisation campaigns.

A flight carrying 10,000 vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech arrived at Santiago airport in the Chilean capital on yesterday morning.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said the country secured 30 million coronavirus vaccines from three suppliers, enough to inoculate 15 million people – over two-thirds of the population – in the first half of 2021.

Costa Rica received its first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on Wednesday.

“It may be the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” President Carlos Alvarado said at a news conference. The Costa Rican leader was at Juan Santamaria airport in the capital San Jose to greet a flight delivering the first 9,750 doses of the vaccine, which arrived yesterday.

Costa Rica last week announced it approved the vaccine, with health workers and the elderly now expected to be the first to receive jabs.

The country of about five million people recorded over 160,000 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, with 2,065 deaths.

Like many others in the region, its health system has been placed under severe strain by the number of infections.

Particularly hard-hit have been Brazil and Mexico, which became the first Latin American country to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday.

The Central American country has the world’s fourth highest Covid-19 fatality toll after the United States, Brazil and India.