The Ministry of Health reported Wednesday that Cuenca and Azuay Province have reached “herd immunity” against the Covid-19 virus, with 86 and 81 percent of the population fully vaccinated. The city and province are the first in the country to achieve the immunity level set by the ministry.
Officials say that the emphasis has shifted to vaccinating older school children, with almost half of those ages 12 to 16 already fully vaccinated.
The health ministry had originally established herd immunity, the level they say is necessary to stop the spread of Covid-19, at 70 percent but raised it to 80 percent when the delta variant entered the country in July. “The experiences in India, Great Britain and the United States made us raise our goal due to delta’s high level of contagiousness,” said regional health ministry director Fausto Idrovo. “Fortunately, delta has so far not shown the same degree of spread in Ecuador and we believe this is due to the rate of vaccination we had reached when it was discovered here.”
He added that he believes delta will “fade away” worldwide within a matter of weeks. “Even in the U.S., which has been badly affected by delta, the new cases are beginning to decline and this pattern is being repeated in other countries too.”
According to Idrovo, the vaccination rate for the elderly and those with serious pre-existing conditions is a major factor in the dramatic drop in Covid cases and deaths — more than 95 percent in Cuenca and 93 percent in the province have received two doses. “This is the population at greatest risk and they are protected at this point,” he said.
There have been less than dozen so-called break-through cases in Azuay Province in July and August, according to Idrovo. “Almost all the new cases we have seen recently are of those who were not vaccinated and we have had no deaths among the fully vaccinated,” he said.