The fight against the covid-19 pandemic will continue throughout 2022, the year that begins with the global threat from the omicron variant and, in Guatemala, with a very significant delay in the best mechanism to combat it: vaccination.
The year ended with 11 million 310 thousand 579 doses applied, of which 58 percent – six million 535 thousand – correspond to first doses, and 41% to second ones, that is, people who have applied the complete scheme, the minimum that It is required for effective protection against coronavirus, as scientific studies have shown.
And while the world is making solid strides for a third booster dose, Guatemala has barely applied 88,446 doses, the equivalent of 0.7% of the population.
In Latin America, the country ranks in the last places in terms of people who have both doses. Countries such as El Salvador, Belize, Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic already have more than half of their population fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data site.
The slowness in the vaccination process has had several problems, one of them the questionable ability to purchase the drug by the Government of Guatemala. Most of the doses applied have been thanks to donations from friendly countries, especially the United States.
How many have entered and how many have applied?
2021 closed with 22 million 604 thousand 380 doses of vaccines that have entered the country. Although the majority are Sputnik V, it was until the last days of December, that just over two million doses entered, that the eight million that the Government bought when it renegotiated the contract were completed.
The rest of the vaccines that have entered are: eight million 505 thousand 60 from Moderna, two million 534 thousand 220 from Pzifer, and three million 565 thousand 100 from Aztra Zeneca.
Likewise, of the more than 22.6 million vaccines that have entered, 10 million 332 thousand 160 have been donated by friendly countries, mainly by the United States, which gave eight and a half million Moderna. Israel, Spain, Mexico, India, Canada and the Dominican Republic have also donated.
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Of the rest, eight million were acquired from the Human Vaccine, the Russian manufacturer of Sputnik V, three million 259 thousand 20 arrived in the country thanks to the Covax mechanism, created by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help poor countries access the vaccine, and bought one million 13 thousand 200 from Astra Zeneca.
But, despite the large investment that has been made to purchase Sputnik V —Q614.5 million— this is the second vaccine that Guatemalans have received the least. This may have been influenced by the smear campaign against vaccination in general, but also that this brand has not yet received the endorsement of the WHO nor is it accepted by the United States to enter the country.
When talking about the complete scheme, according to the board that contains all the vaccination data, 47% of Guatemalans have applied the Moderna vaccine, 24% Astra Zeneca, 21% Sputnik V and the remaining 8%, Pzifer.
Where have they been vaccinated the most?
Guatemala is the department where people have been vaccinated the most. In total, 3 million 969 thousand 792 doses have been applied —35.1% of the total injections given—, between first, second and reinforcement. While in El Progreso it is where they have least been, with 147,184.
The capital is the municipality with the most vaccines applied with 832 thousand 559, which represents 85% of its inhabitants, while Concepción, Sololá, the one that has received the least with just 114, the equivalent of 2.3% of its vaccinated population.
But the most relevant data is the percentage of vaccinated with the second dose in relation to the population of each department. In other words, which are the departments with the most protected inhabitants from covid-19.
In that sense, there is a huge difference between the former and the latter. Guatemala is once again the department with the highest percentage of its population with the complete vaccination scheme with 60.29%. They are followed by Sacatepéquez, with 53.6%; Chimaltenango, 41.8%; El Progreso, 41.7%; and Quetzaltenango, 40.6%.
At the other extreme, those with less than their vaccinated population are: San Marcos and Petén, 24.9%; Solola, 24.5%; Quiché, 23.3%; and Alta Verapaz, which has vaccinated only 16.3% of its inhabitants with the two doses.
Regarding who have been the people who have most responded to the call for vaccination, by demographic characteristics, and who have already completed their scheme, 55% of those who already have it are women -2 million 573 thousand 811-, and the The remaining are men —45% -, which is equivalent to two million 113 thousand 72.
In addition, 58.02% of people from 60 to 69 years old already had their complete scheme as of December 31, as well as 53.7% of the age group from 50 to 59 years, 48.05%, from 40 to 49; 47.36%, aged 70 or over; 40.25%, from 30 to 39; 32.02%, from 18 to 29 years old; and 15.63% corresponds to minors between 12 and 17 years old.
It must be accelerated
Analysts believe that vaccination levels should be accelerated.
“Vaccination is today one of the main elements that in reality could help us to get things back to normal. Efforts to incorporate a vaccine to young children are not visible, which will have repercussions, “said the analyst and former Deputy Minister of Health, Adrián Chavez.
He added that the Ministry of Health has not implemented a communication strategy aimed at attacking misinformation about the vaccine or to motivate vaccination.
Health analyst Karin Slowing stated that “current vaccination levels do not guarantee that we have an adequate defense against a new wave of infections,” which could have repercussions on the already saturated national health system.
“Vaccination is key and if the current rate is maintained more inequalities in access to vaccines can anticipate 2022 at half steam,” said the analyst.