Chile and Serbia have already injected a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to more than 17% of the population. The European Union administered a vaccine to only 6% of Europeans.
Almost 3 million doses in 3 weeks
Chile, a country of 18 million people, already gave a first shot of covid-19 vaccines to 3 million of its citizens.
It amounts to 17% of the population. The President expects to have all Chileans over 65 with at least a first dose in the coming days.
These performances are even more striking that 90% of the vaccination injections occurred in less than 3 weeks, with an average of 130,000 first shots every day
.In fact, their mass-population campaign only really started in the beginning of February. On February 3rd, less than 80 000 doses were injected yet.It quickly outpaced the European Union though. On average Chile inoculated the serum 4,4 faster than the EU members in February.
Serbia doesn’t have much luxury to chose
The European Union has started the vaccination in December. Yet it is going at a steady but slower rate than the UK, the US, or even Serbia.
Serbia, which is not part of the EU, has almost given as many shots as the US proportionally to the size of its population, with 20 doses for 100 people.
The differences can be explained by the pragmatism of these two countries: a quick execution and a sense of realpolitik.
As reported by the BBC, Serbia’s Prime Minister is not picky on where the vaccine comes from, whether it is a Chinese, American or European one: “We don’t care as long as they’re safe and we get them as soon as possible“.
The Chinese vaccine largely distributed
The European Union doesn’t use the Chinese vaccine, CoronaVac, developed by Sinovac.
However, Serbia and Chile welcome it with open arms.The large-scale campaign in Chile actually started with the Chinese medicine. It bought the one from Pfizer and received doses in the end of December, but the quantity they could get compared to the EU was minimal.
As a matter of fact, the President Sebastián Piñera and the Ministers of Health and Science greeted the shipment of nearly 2 million doses on Thurday, February 25th. The next day, another lot of 2 million was received.
Almost a month earlier, 4 million vaccines were also collected by the President himself in the course of 3 days, which allowed the country to start the campaign at scale.
Chile supported clinical trials
Chile has recorded more than 800 000 infections and 20 000 deaths which drew harsh criticism from the population.
But the country agreed to perform phase 3 clinical trials for AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac and CanSino.
The country was therefore in a favorable position to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies, helped by its reputation of a wealthy state.
The Chilean administration even provided funds for hosting Sinovac’s trial, supported by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, in exchange of advantageous access to the medicine. The University, one of the most recognized in Latin America, had already worked with Sinovac for respiratory viruses before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The European Union, home to 450 million people, has administered more than 30 million doses total, which is still 10 times more than Chile. The South American country has also given the 2nd injection to only 50 000 persons so far.
Chile aims to double the pace in March, with 300 000 daily injections, and have 80% of the population vaccinated by the end of June 2020.
Media sources and useful links:
- Visual dataset sources : Our World in Data
- Cómo hizo Chile para vacunar al 16% de su población en solo 21 días, El Pais America, February 2021, Free access
- How Chile became an unlikely winner in the COVID-19 vaccine race, The Conversation, February 2021, Free access
- Så tog sig Chile till toppen av vaccinligan, Aftonbladet, February 2021, Free access
- Casi 2 millones de dosis: llega a Chile tercer cargamento de vacuna Sinovac contra el COVID-19, T13, February 2021, Free access
- How Serbia soared ahead in vaccination campaign, BBC, February 2021, Free access