Covid-19 vaccines protect you against the new delta variant that has recently arrived in Ecuador. That’s the message the Ministry of Health wants to put out to the public. “Of the 10 patients infected with the new variant, nine were unvaccinated,” says Isabel María Cueva, Zone 7 Ministry of Health director. “One patient had received the first vaccine dose two days before testing positive, which is too soon for it to take effect.”
Cueva added that the five who died of the delta variant were all unvaccinated and suffered from diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and anemia. “Comorbidities played a role in the all of the deaths.” Although the names of the dead have not been released, Cueva says they ranged in age from 40 to 70 and included a 53-year-old medical worker who had refused the vaccine.
According to Cueva and other health ministry officials, information about the vaccination status of the delta victims will be used in a national advertising campaign to encourage people to get their shots. “We are mounting an aggressive campaign to encourage Ecuadorians to come to the vaccination centers,” says Lena Moscoso, spokeswoman for the health ministry. “The cases of the delta infections in El Oro and Guayas will make our job easier because they provide real life examples of the efficacy of vaccines.”
Moscoso said the ministry is also planning a social media campaign against what she calls “fraudulent misinformation” about vaccine safety. “We need to debunk the myths and lies being propagated which some people, unfortunately, are believing.”
On Wednesday, following the government announcement of the 10 delta variant cases, vaccine centers throughout the country reported a surge to people showing up for shots. In Guayaquil, Mayor Cynthia Viteri announced the opening of new vaccination centers which she says are needed to handle increased demand.
Cueva said countering misinformation is key to increasing Ecuador’s vaccination rate. “The news about the delta variant and the victims will help but we must be more aggressive about correcting the lies,” she says. “The people putting out the bad information are not doctors or researchers and many of them are selling fraudulent products. Unfortunately, their message is reaching the uneducated population. Those who are educated understand the science, which is the case worldwide.”
She says that the Covid experience in countries with high vaccination rates, such as the U.S. and Great Britain, proves the effectiveness of vaccines. “Like many other countries, they are seeing a surge in delta variant cases but their death rate remains very low because 60 to 70 percent of the adult population is vaccinated. We now have proof that vaccines work and must inform our own population.”
Guayaquil epidemiologist Carlos Farhat, agrees and says vaccination is the strongest weapon to avoid serious complications from Covid-19. “Unfortunately there has been a high rate of absenteeism at our vaccination centers and news of delta and the strengthening of our information program about vaccines will persuade more people to come in for their inoculations. This should be easier now that we have the proof that vaccines are safe and that they protect you against a deadly disease.”
On Wednesday, President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in Guayaquil and El Oro Provinces in an effort to contain the spread of the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. The action is based on the recommendation by the national Emergency Operations Committee