Chile Monday began applying the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to its population after Jan. 10 additional boosters were injected to people with comorbidities, health care staff and those over 55 years of age as infections due to the Omicron variant was on the rise.
President Sebastián Piñera, aged 72, was the first to receive the additional booster dose. The head of state said he was very grateful for the way in which Chilean men and women faced this pandemic.
He added that since the Omicron virus has a contagious capacity that surprised the entire world and caused the collapse of the health system even in the most developed countries, Chile decided to introduce three measures to face the emergency: strengthening the country's health system; massive vaccination from age 3 and strict prevention measures.
Piñera took his injection at a public health center in Futrono, in the Los Ríos region, 800 kilometers south of Santiago, where he was spending a few days on vacation. He is to leave his job March 11 when President-elect Gabriel Boric is sworn in.
According to Chile's Health Ministry, this fourth dose increases a person's protection twentyfold compared to who does not have their full vaccination.
About 73.9% of Chileans have received the third dose or first booster jab. The brands most used in Chile are CoronaVac, Pfizer-BioNtech, AstraZeneca and Cansino.
Chile is one of the countries with the highest vaccination rate in the world, with more than 92% of the population (19 million) having taken a complete two-dose or single-dose treatment. It is also one of the few to have started the fourth dose cycle, when new daily cases have been reported to exceed 30,000. Health authorities insisted vaccination has prevented people from going into serious and critical conditions.
A total 40,060 Chileans have died of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, as well as 2,405,672 infections