Wednesday 8 February 2023

Minister of Health accepts slow vaccination process: “Pfizer decides distribution”

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QCOSTARICA – “Pfizer actually has within all its logistics figures to be delivered, the idea is that this is distributed and they fulfill their final contract throughout the year. They are the ones who are making this distribution in the end.

“If it were up to us, we would tell them to send us 500,000 or 600,000 doses in a single shipment in order to move forward much faster, but Pfizer is not exclusive to Costa Rica.”

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That is the explanation of Costa Rica’s Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, of the situation that currently exists in the country with the COVID-19 vaccination process.

Since last December 23 – when the first batch with doses arrived – just over 104,000 vaccines have been received.

“It is true that the speed is not what one would like, we could vaccinate 300,000 people per week or a little more. But the truth is that we are completely dependent on the availability of a vaccine,” said Salas.

Costa Rica has a contract with Pfizer to purchase 3 million doses, which will allow it to vaccinate 1.5 million people since each one needs two doses.

On January 16, the pharmaceutical announced that at the end of January and the beginning of February, it will slow down the delivery of vaccines against the new coronavirus, due to changes in the production process in Europe, where the vaccines shipped to Costa Rica come from, and, later, to be able to increase that rate.

Costa Rica received 5 deliveries from Pfizer before suspending their shipments worldwide. Shipments are expected to resume after February 15

Due to this, the shipment of doses to the country was stopped, although it is expected that it will be resumed in a few days, as of February 15.

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The country’s objective is to immunize 3 million people, for this, it also has agreements signed with COVAX and AstraZeneca.

“This anxiety by not advancing with enough speed with respect to vaccination is something that Costa Rica is experiencing like many other countries,” Salas mentioned, comparing the current situation to that with covid-19 tests experienced at the beginning of the pandemic.

For Salas, the speed of vaccination will increase when other pharmaceutical houses can guarantee their dose.

For example, AztraZeneca is waiting for approval from agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), in charge of the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products in the European Union.

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“We have contracts that ensure the constant supply of vaccines to the country, but as other vaccines such as AstraZeneca begin to enter, whatever enters through COVAX or eventually through other forms, as we will be able to increase the speed of vaccination,” he said.

Salas was clear that the goal is to achieve the necessary immunity to COVID-19 in the country by the second quarter of this year.

But for that, it is still a long way, since until February 5 a total of 75,113 vaccine doses had been applied against COVID-19 (46,750 to the first and 28,363 to the second), according to data from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).

According to the last numbers published by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, February 10, Costa Rica has accumulated 198,388 confirmed cases of covid-19, of which 159,586 (80%) have recupared.

The country also records 2,701 deaths associated with the coronavirus and currently has 366 people hospitalized, of which 161 are in Intensive Car.

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