Chinese vaccine could be produced and used in Ecuador; Argentina legalizes abortion; Chile reports first case of UK Covid; Water woes in Chordeleg
Following Monday’s announcement that several thousand Ecuadorians will participate in phase 3 trials of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos disclosed Tuesday that he is negotiating with developers to produce the vaccine in Ecuador. “We are eager to participate in the trials but we are also very interested in being involved in the production and distribution process,” he said. “In preliminary talks, Sinovac officials seem very interested.”
According to Zevallos, vaccine production costs in Ecuador would be low, comparable to those in China, and local production would mean the country would have ready access to vaccines. “We are beginning to see production and distribution delays with the Pfizer and Moderna products in Europe and the U.S. and I am concerned that we could be forced to wait for months for these to arrive,” he said.
Zevallos says he is impressed with the quality of Sinovac. “The results to date have been impressive and they have been verified in the U.S. and EU. Sinovac uses traditional vaccine technology, which means more is known about outcomes and potential side affects, which is emerging as a concern for Pfizer and Moderna.”
Sinovac’s vaccine, called CoronaVac, works by using dead viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response. By comparison, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA vaccines, a relatively new technology.
Pending final trial results and approval by international and national authorities, Zevallos says the Sinovac vaccines could begin production as early as late January or early February.
Despite distribution concerns, the Ministry of Health still expects to receive 50,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of January. The first doses will be administered to health care and emergency services personnel.
Argentina legalizes abortion
By a 38 to 29 vote, Argentina’s Senate has voted to legalize elective abortion. Thousands of pro- and anti-abortion supporters gathered outside the Senate building in Buenos Aires on Tuesday and pro-abortion supporters celebrated into Wednesday morning. President Alberto Fernandez said he will sign the legislation into law.
Chile reports first cast of UK Covid variant
The first case of the new, more contagious Covid-19 variant first identified in Great Britain has been identified in Chile. The health ministry said an unidentified Chilean passenger who arrived December 23 on an Iberia flight from Madrid tested positive for the variant. The ministry said the patient is in quarantine and being monitored on a daily basis.
8,000 without water in Chordeleg
More than 8,000 residents of Chordeleg were without drinking water Tuesday night. Water service was cut off Sunday following flooding of the Rio Pungohuayco, which damaged the municipal water plant. Utility workers report that filtering equipment must be repaired before service can resume. According to local government, water tanker trucks will continue to provide water to affected households until service is restored later this week.