QCOSTARICA – They summoned him for an appearance. Then they stood him up. So, Dr. Daniel Salas, Minister of Health, took to social media to deliver his message, defending on Facebook the purchase plan for vaccines against covid-19, a message he was prepared to give to legislators on Wednesday, May 26.
By June 30, Costa Rica is expected to have one million people fully vaccinated; This is less than a quarter of the target 4.5 million population to vaccinate against COVID-19.
Minister Salas, however, assures that that million people will be far exceeded by that date, due to the increase in the reception of doses from pharmaceutical suppliers, as evidenced this past week.
This is one of the points that on Wednesday, Salas had prepared to deliver to the Legislative Assembly for his “requested” appearance to render accounts on the vaccination campaign.
However, it was not possible to do deliver the message in person because there was no quorum in Congress, that is, the 38 legislators needed to open the session where the minister would be heard and questioned did not happen.
For that reason, Salas went on Facebook live to deliver his message directly to the people.
If you cannot see the video, click here for the Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica Facebook page.
As of May 25, Costa Rica had received more than 2.1 million doses from the three vaccine supply sources available so far: the Covax facility, Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
Of these, says Salas, 1.4 million doses have been applied to more than 800,000 people.
Actually, according to figures released Tuesday by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) 1,457,802 doses have been applied, of which 867,517 people have received their first and 590,285 their second.
In the transmission, in which technical problems abounded, the Minister assured that from the beginning of the emergency there was a rapprochement with the companies that develop vaccines against covid-19 and a quick organization on the part of national authorities.
In the first minutes of his message, Salas explained the roles of the main institutions involved with the management of this emergency, starting with Health, and continuing with the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) and the CCSS.
According to the document that was to have been presented to the legislagtors, and the subsequent presentation of Salas through social networks, the country plans to invest just over US$98.9 million in the acquisition of 9.1 million doses for more than 4.5 million people (Costa Ricans and legal residents).
Of the amount invested, more than US$1.1 million is for the acquisition of supplies (cotton, syringes, etc) for the vaccination process.
These doses include those negotiated through bilateral contracts with the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca, as well as through the Covax facility, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The selection of vaccines is made, according to the minister’s report, by the Comisión Nacional de Vacunación y Epidemiología (CNVE) – National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission, and are decisions based on evidence and technical analysis by a team made up of professionals from different disciplines in the medical area.
The criteria that are considered for this selection are scientific, immunological, administrative, logistical and economic (price), highlights the report.
The document also reviewed the global context of the vaccine market, noting that rich countries account for 54% of available doses, despite having only 16% of the world’s population.
This happened, among other things, because those nations invested heavily to subsidize the development and production of these products, and because they also approved vaccines without having completed phase III studies in humans and without authorization from strict regulatory agencies.
Salas highlighted that Costa Rica was the sixth country in the world with the availability of vaccines.
It was also the third with the largest population with full doses, and the fifth country in the region in doses applied per 100 inhabitants.
The Ministry of Health, according to the report, supports the management of the private sector to bring vaccines and expand the country’s protection capacity against covid-19.
In this, Salsas points out, he has been given “accompaniment and support.”
“The Government welcomes the private sector purchasing vaccine. What does it depend on? From the availability, that they have the endorsement of the strict regulatory agency, and of the pharmaceutical producing houses, which have said so far that they are negotiating directly with governments. This may change,” Salas said.
According to the minister, a resolution has already been issued at the end of April, which allows an abbreviated process of ten days that would allow the use of the vaccine by the private sector.
Health authorities, Salas defends in the document, have taken multiple steps to increase the availability of vaccines.
It highlights the purchase of additional doses and the reduction of reserves, the widening of the distance between doses, and the permanent negotiations with the pharmaceutical laboratories Pfizer and AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, as well as requests for international cooperation through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with countries like the United States, Canada, and nations of the European Union.
The minister clarifies, once again, that while the vaccination progresses, the inhabitants must maintain the sanitary practices suggested to contain the advance of the virus.
Salas was summoned by Congress to appear this May 26, throughout the day, but the presence of only 35 legislators prevented him from making his 40-minute presentation.
The interpellation was moved to Monday, May 31.
According to the presidential office of the Assembly, of the 22 absent, only eight had permission to be absent, including three from the PAC, the ruling party. Another legislator, Christian Socialist Rodolfo Peña, is still hospitalized in Liberia, recovering from covid-19.