Without a great media hype, the first 192,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac arrived in Montevideo in the early hours of Friday morning. However, a police operation was deployed throughout the day to begin distributing the vaccines, which will begin to be administered on Monday, March 1, to a small group of essential workers in different parts of the capital and the interior of the country.
Uruguay is the last South American country to start its vaccination process. However, it promises a massive and effective plan. Álvaro Delgado, Secretary of the Presidency, predicted that the country will finish the vaccination process much faster than others that started the process 20 days earlier. With a population of 3.5 million inhabitants, the government of Luis Lacalle Pou has already secured enough doses to inoculate more than half of it.
The vaccination process begins during a resurgence of contagions that started two weeks after Carnival holidays. The country reached 600 total deaths due to coronavirus on Friday and registered 854 new cases on the same day, out of a total of 8,262 tests, informed the National Emergency System (Sinae). On average, there were 742 covid-19 infections per day in the last week. This is a significant increase compared to the drop in the number of infections recorded since the end of January.
A massive plan that promises to inoculate quickly
The vaccination process – which began this Saturday with the personnel in charge of inoculation – will not be compulsory and plans to prioritize police personnel, firefighters, education personnel, and military personnel under 60 years of age. Anyone interested who meets the requirements of each stage of the process must request an appointment through an application and sign a consent document.
Meanwhile, 460 thousand doses of Pfizer vaccines are expected to arrive on March 8, which will be administered first to health personnel and then to elder citizens. From March 15, Sinovac will send 1,558,000 more doses, said the executive branch during a press conference along with the Chinese ambassador in Uruguay, Wang Gang, who met with President Lacalle Pou on the day of the arrival of the first doses.
There will be some 90 vaccination points throughout the country, distributed among health centers and stadiums.
There is still no confirmed date for the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines, which Uruguay acquired through the World Health Organization (WHO) Covax Fund.
On the day the vaccination begins, Lacalle Pou will be celebrating one year in office. The president received the presidential sash from the hands of former president Tabaré Vázquez on March 1, 2020, just 13 days before declaring a health emergency due to the first case registered in the country, one of the least affected by the pandemic.
To prevent users from skipping the vaccination line, the appointment through the application requires the identity number, which determines the age and profile of the interested user. The only data the person needs to know is the identity card number, explained Nicolás Jodal, CEO of Genexus and developer of the app. Jodal added that once an appointment has been made at the Ministry of Public Health, all the follow-up is carried out by the app.