Vaccinations Begin in Latin America, Where Covid Hit Hardest

(Bloomberg) - Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica began administering the first Covid-19 vaccines in Latin America on Thursday as the region hardest hit by the disease seeks relief from the pandemic.
The first injection was streamed live from a hospital in Mexico and shown during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's daily press conference. It was given to the chief of nursing in an intensive care unit at Mexico City General Hospital. In Chile, the government selected five health workers for the vaccination, which was also televised. Costa Rica also started its vaccination campaign on Thursday. All three apply Pfizer Inc recordings.
The vaccine arrivals offer a glimmer of hope for a region particularly devastated by the virus. Brazil has the second highest number of deaths from the virus in the world, followed by Mexico in fourth place. Mexico's death rate is also one of the highest in the world. Hospital occupancy in Mexico City has reached 85%, and a study suggests the healthcare system may soon be overwhelmed.
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"Mexico is the first country in Latin America to have this vaccine," said the Mexican president at the press conference. "Pfizer is fulfilling its commitment."
Virus Tracker: Global Cases 78.8 Million; Deaths 1.73 million
The Mexican government plans to vaccinate nearly 3,000 people on Thursday in what authorities are calling a trial run. Pfizer is expected to ship 50,000 more cans to Mexico next week.
A plane with the country's first 10,000 cans arrived in Chile on Thursday morning. During a press conference, President Sebastian Pinera said the country plans to vaccinate the majority of health workers and citizens at risk - around 5 million people - in the first quarter of 2021.
Brazil, the Latin American country with the highest number of Covid-19 cases, has fallen behind in the region's race to vaccinate the population. The urge to get injections has been hampered by political disputes and timing setbacks from the locally made coronavac vaccine.
The earliest date published to date for vaccinations in Latin America's largest economy is January 25, just for the state of Sao Paulo. The country's Supreme Court has also ruled that Brazilians can be mandated to vaccinate.
Read more: Brazil's Supreme Court rules against Covid Anti-Vaxxer
While Latin American nations have lagged developed countries in their vaccine roll-out programs - the US has already given over a million doses - Mexico and Chile have received more doses of the virus than anyone in the region.
300,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V also arrived in Argentina on Thursday. President Alberto Fernandez thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin in a social media post on Twitter Thursday afternoon for the “commitment” he showed Argentina and said the shipment would launch the largest vaccination campaign in the country's history.
(Updates with details on Argentina’s vaccination schedules in the last paragraph.)
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