President-elect Guillermo Lasso’s proposal to use Ecuador’s election system to administer Covid-19 vaccines is being praised by health professionals and politicians. Diana Atamaint, president of the National Election Council said the plan is “workable” and she is ready to commit her resources to a mass vaccination program.
National Assemblymen Salvador Quishpe of the leftist Pachakutiks and Henry Kronfle of the conservative Social Christians, competing for the Assembly presidency, said the plan could produce faster results than the current system. “People are familiar with the election process and the voting stations and the same process could be used for inoculations, moving us much more quickly to herd immunity,” Kronfle said. “Of course, we must obtain the necessary doses but I understand this could happen within a matter of weeks.”
Quishpe said that proposal to use voting locations would increase the number of people willing to be vaccinated. “Now, people are confused and intimidated by the process,” he said. “The internet appointment system has been a problem and people are going to unfamiliar places to get their shots. Many times, there are long waits and then they are told to go to other locations.”
Quito epidemiologist Daniel Simancas also praised the plan. “This would eliminate the need for online appointments since the elections council already has all the data on citizens. Since it would be conducted like an election, the people are familiar with the locations and the system and we could, conceivably, vaccinate the majority of the population within a few weeks.” He agreed with Kronfle that a sufficient number of vaccine doses will soon be available. “Europe and North America have vaccinated most of those who are interested and I expect shipments to shift to other parts of the world very soon.”
Although details of Lasso’s plan remain to be worked out, he says vaccinations would be administered on weekends over a period of two to three weeks.
According to Russian news media, Lasso has been successful in arranging shipments of Sputnik V vaccines. Russia’s ambassador to Ecuador, Vladimir Sprinchan, said that Lasso had been in direct contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that arrangements are being made for the shipment of eight million doses, possibly by the end of May.
Sprinchan said that reports that the Lenin Moreno government had negotiated the purchase of the Sputnik vaccine were untrue. “There were preliminary discussions with the former and the current health ministers but they did not follow up so there was no agreement,” he said. “The president-elect [Lasso] has pulled the trigger and moved the process forward and shipments are being arranged.”
Health Minister Camilo Salinas announced last week that negotiations had been completed for the Sputnik purchase and shipment. Sprinchan said this is not true and that “nothing much was happening.”