Chile launches 'ambitious' Covid-19 vaccination drive

SANTIAGO (REUTERS) – Chile on Wednesday (Feb 3) launched one of Latin America’s most ambitious coronavirus vaccination programmes, having set itself the target of inoculating around five million citizens against the disease by the end of March.

The country, which started targeted inoculations late last year for front-line health workers, is now rolling vaccines out to older adults and essential workers after receiving nearly four million doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine.

Chile, which has almost 750,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 18,500 deaths, is set to receive a further six million doses of Sinovac in February and three million more in early March.

“This allows us to safely begin this mass vaccination process for our entire population,” President Sebastian Pinera said early on Wednesday at one of the 1,400 vaccination sites set up across the country.

Mr Pinera said Chile also expects to receive some six million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine and about four million of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine by mid-year, by which time it aims to have inoculated 15 million of its near 19 million citizens.

The government has acknowledged its plans are “ambitious”.

Chile also has a pre-agreement to purchase four million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and has signed up to the global Covax distribution scheme.

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