Chile Signs Covid Vaccine Deal With CanSino Amid Virus Surge

Chile signed an agreement with CanSino Biologics Inc. for 1.8 million Covid vaccine doses that will start to arrive in May, the government’s Vice Minister of Trade Rodrigo Yanez said in an interview.

The country has already received close to 13 million total shots against Covid-19 and it’s expecting the arrival of an extra 15 million doses by June to reach herd immunity in the first half of the year, Yanez said. CanSino, which is a one-shot vaccine, will provide 1.8 million doses, while the remaining supply will come from Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca.

Chile Signs Covid Vaccine Deal With CanSino Amid Virus Surge

Chile is battling a virus surge that’s led to all-time highs for hospitalizations and daily infections. At the same time, the South American nation is a global front-runner in vaccine roll-outs. More than 6.5 million people - over 30% of the population - have already received at least one shot, and Health Ministry officials have said the inoculations will show effects starting in April.

The use of the CanSino vaccine is still pending approval by the government’s Institute of Public Health, whose board will meet on April 7 to make a final decision. Yanez said he foresees no problems in granting permission.

“The Institute of Public Health already granted its approval for CanSino’s trials in Chile, which is the largest we have, and they know this vaccine quite well,” he said.

AstraZeneca Shots

Chile is scheduled to receive a total of 6.5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine through direct negotiations with the company and the World Health Organization’s COVAX program. Any eventual European Union export restrictions on that shot wouldn’t disrupt Chile’s supply, Yanez said.

“Nothing we agreed with AstraZeneca is coming directly from Europe,” he said.

Chile’s government is also preparing for future provisions of doses. The government agreed to buy 20 million Sinovac doses per year, in case more shots are needed, through 2023, Yanez said.

“We have to prepare for the possibility of having to vaccinate our population again next year, and we are in negotiations with different laboratories for this,” Yanez said.

On March 26, Chile posted a record for daily virus cases, with 7,626 infections, according to the Health Ministry. President Sebastian Pinera’s administration has responded to the up-tick by expanding quarantines, imposing new rules on travelers and forcing stores to close earlier.

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