ASUTIL: Vaccination pace slowly picks up in South America

The vaccination process is going forward in South America, albeit slowly, reported José Luis Donagaray, Secretary General of South American Duty Free Association ASUTIL during a far-ranging webinar last Wednesday.

With an average of only 18% of the population currently fully vaccinated in the region, Donagaray confirms that the region is still far behind North America and the European Union. Numbers reported by Gonzalo Yelpo, Legal Director, ALTA, the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association, shows that a little more than 39% of the population has received at least one shot at this time. This is up significantly since the figure was 20% at the beginning of June.

But the level of vaccinations vary with country, Donagaray says. Uruguay and Chile, for example, are leading the vaccination process (#2 and #3 in the world in terms of share of population vaccinated).

Further complicating the situation, the variety of vaccines can vary by country. Argentina was using some Russian vaccines, and Chile was using the Chinese vaccine, which are not accepted in all other countries.

But Argentina announced that it has signed an agreement with Pfizer for 20 million vaccine doses, and also signed with AstraZeneca-Moderna, so that country should be able to vaccinate many more people in the next months.

“With two doses the people can get good immunity so Argentina can open the borders,” said Donagaray. “Slowly but steady we are moving forward and opening our borders.”

The rest of the region falls much lower. Colombia reports that 22% of the population have received two doses, Brazil comes in at 18%, Argentina – 13%, and Ecuador – 12%.

These are followed by Bolivia and Paraguay, which have only 7% and 4% respectively.