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Chile is closing the capital Santiago again as vaccines do not curb outrageous cases

A woman walks past a graffiti reading ‘Social distance’ during the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Santiago, Chile June 7, 2021. REUTERS / Ivan Alvarado

Chilean health authorities on Thursday announced a closed shutdown over the capital Santiago following some of the worst COVID-19 figures since the pandemic began, despite having fully vaccinated more than half of the population.

Developments that will alert authorities elsewhere discussing how quickly to reopen when vaccination campaigns collect steam come as Chile’s confirmed daily caseload rose 17% in the last two weeks nationwide and 25% in the Metropolitan region, which includes Santiago and is home to half of the country’s population.

Intensive care beds in the capital region now have a capacity of 98%. Jose Luis Espinoza, president of Chile’s National Association of Nursing Associations (FENASENF), said his members were “on the verge of collapse.”

Chile has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. About 75% of the 15 million inhabitants have already received at least one dose of vaccine, and almost 58% are completely inoculated. On a basis per. Population among major countries is the vaccination leader in America and the fifth highest in the world according to Reuters data.

It has so far used almost 23 million vaccine doses – 17.2 million from Sinovac (SVA.O), 4.6 million Pfizer (PFE.N) / BioNTech (22UAy.DE) and less than 1 million each from AstraZenecas< AZN.L> and CanSino’s. (6185.HK)

Vaccines are not 100% effective, medical experts pointed out, and there is a delay before they reach their highest effect. Also driving the hard second wave is lockdown fatigue and the emergence of more infectious variants.

Of the 7,716 people confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 between Wednesday and Thursday, 73% had not been fully inoculated and 74% were under the age of 49, the health ministry said.

Dr. Cesar Cortes, an emergency physician at the University of Chile hospital, said people who stayed home last year were now more afraid of being out of work.

“Last year there was low circulation and the containment measures were more effective because people were afraid to die,” he said. “It’s not happening now.”

Without the vaccines, Chile would be much worse off, he said.

“The complicated situation we are seeing now would be catastrophic,” he said.

Chile’s health regulator, ISP, said genome sequencing of infections between December and June had confirmed that the Brazilian P1 variant was the most widespread in the country and “twice as contagious as the original strain.”

Chile is now starting to vaccinate teenagers after offering jabs to older age groups. Two weeks ago, the green card was introduced to give the vaccinated more freedom in an attempt to encourage the cautious to come forward.

An infectious disease specialist at a large hospital in Santiago, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak officially, said vaccines could not completely alleviate the congested hospitals.

“About 10% of the population, even if they are vaccinated, will not be protected from serious illness. It is hundreds of thousands of people who go to ICUs,” he said. “And when our health care system is strained to the extreme, as it is now, that percentage alone is enough to overwhelm them.”

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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