Around 40 percent of Chilean citizens have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to statistics compiled by Our World in Data. This makes Chile one of the leading vaccinators in the world, only trailing Israel and the UK.
Despite the widespread vaccinations, Chile has seen a massive increase in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks. The Pan American Health Organization’s regional director believes that not even vaccines will be able to slow the spread of COVID-19 at this point. On April 9, cases of COVID-19 rose to a record high above 9,000.
Health experts attribute the recent surge in cases to mutated strains of the virus, decreased public health measures, increased mobility, and a lack of awareness for precaution. There has also been skepticism over the vaccine that most Chileans have received, CoronaVac.
CoronaVac is a vaccine manufactured by the Chinese firm Sinovac. China's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month said that the efficacy of the vaccine may not be suffficient.
“We will solve the problem that current vaccines don’t have very high protection rates,” George Gao, director general of the Chinese CDC, said. Late-stage data on the vaccine is limited, but Brazilian trials showed the vaccine only having around 50 percent efficacy. This is significantly less than the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines.
“This would help to explain why Chile — with one of the world’s most robust vaccine rollouts but 93% of the doses coming from China — has experienced a simultaneous significant expansion in cases, and a much slower decline in hospitalizations and deaths compared to the early rollouts in Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States,” Ian Bremmer, president of risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said.
“Chile and the United Arab Emirates are both considering implementing a third dose (so a second booster shot) of the Chinese vaccine accordingly; a change in communications that will increase vaccine hesitancy for the Chinese vaccines more broadly,” Bremmer said.