Chile has received 10,000 initial doses of the Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) COVID-19 vaccine and commenced vaccinations. The county becomes the first in South America to commence vaccinations against the coronavirus that has so far infected over 584,545 Chileans to date.
Chileans skeptical about COVID-19 vaccine
The first Chilean to receive the vaccine is 46-year old specialist nurse Zulema Riquelme. Riquelme is a 26-year veteran working at a public hospital in a poor neighborhood in the country’s capital. She urged others to follow the lead but according to a local poll company Cadem, only 36% were willing to receive the vaccine immediately with another 22% stating that they will not consider receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Riquelme explained that she understands then skepticism from people since the vaccines are new and urged people to have some faith and trust.
According to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, the country received the doses on Christmas Eve from Pfizer’s manufacturing facility in Belgium. The consignment was in two small boxes packed with 23 kg each of dry ice to maintain them at the ultra-cold temperatures that they require. The packages were also loaded with 13 kg of vaccine syringes. A police helicopter transferred the packages from the Santiago Airport to a logistic center in the Chilean airport.
Critical personnel to receive inoculation first
Pinera had early indicated that they will commence vaccination with front line workers in critical units taking care of critically ill patients. He said that they will continue with the critically ill, the elderly, and frontline healthcare workers fighting coronavirus. The government announced that they expect to have over 30 million vaccine shits by next year to combat COVID-19. The initial vaccination period will utilize 20,000 vaccine doses from Pfizer.
Besides Pfizer, Chile also has COVID-19 vaccine agreements with Sinovac, and AstraZeneca and the country is also part of the worldwide vaccine distribution program COVAX.Enrique Paris, Chile’s Health Minister indicated that they expect to receive 240,000 doses from Pfizer in January with the first batch from Sinovac expected by January 20, 2021.