QCOSTARICA – By early 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in Costa Rica. Although that will also depend on the progress it has in the world, where it is said that by the end of this year the first candidate vaccines will have their approval.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica health authorities are clear that when the first shipments with the doses reach national soil, the population at risk will have priority.
“We are going to have a vaccine not to cover the entire population, in the beginning, but to cover the highest risk groups,” said Health Minister Daniel Salas.
Among the groups at greatest risk for the SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are the elderly, people with diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, people with heart disease, and health workers.
In this case, the National Commission for Vaccination and Epidemiology (Comisión Nacional de Vacunación y Epidemiologia) and the Ministry of Health will be in charge of defining those people who will receive the injection first.
“The Caja would apply the vaccines in the population that the National Commission of Vaccination and Epidemiology defines. Always complying with all the corresponding prevention and control measures. The Caja will be in charge of operationalizing what this Commission defines,” said Leandra Abarca, coordinator of the Immunization program of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).
Currently, the country is part of the COVAX Facility system, a program coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), which would allow it to purchase vaccines to inject about 20% of the population – one million people.
In addition, it signed a contract with the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech for the purchase of 3 million more vaccines against COVID-19. That would guarantee the vaccination of 1.5 million people (each person receiving two doses).
Meanwhile, the government continues in negotiations with other pharmaceuticals for the purchase of more vaccines.
“This time and acquisition thing is in constant motion,” Salas said.
The president of the CCSS, Román Macaya, assured that in this first instance the objective is to obtain vaccines to protect 3 million people; at the moment the country has guarantees for 2.5 million.
The purchase of these vaccines is made through the Fondo Nacional de Emergencias (National Emergency Fund).