Record number vaccinated on Friday; Studies show Sinovac is ‘highly effective’; Computers, camera prices drop; High rate of motorcycle accidents in Cuenca

Jul 17, 2021 | 12 comments

The Ministry of Health reported that 336,000 Covid-19 vaccines were administered on Friday, the highest single-day total since the vaccination program began in February. It was the third record set since Tuesday when news that the Covid delta variant had arrived in Ecuador.

Studies by the New England Journal of Medicine and the Pontificia Universidad Católica of Chile show that the Sinovac vaccine is very effective against severe cases of Covid-19.

“There is no doubt that the variant is the reason for the renewed interest in getting vaccinated,” said health ministry consultant, epidemiologist Carlos Farhat. “People are very concerned and many are afraid. Until this week, we had seen a decline in the number of people coming to the vaccination centers and we were worried we would not make our goal of nine million vaccinated Ecuadorians by September. With the advent of delta, our concern shifts to making sure that all of those lining up for shots receive them.”

Next week, eligibility ages for vaccines drops below 40 and the invitation is extended to hundreds of thousands of refugees living in Ecuador.

The health ministry says it has sufficient vaccine doses to handle the increased demand, noting that more than two million doses of Pfizer arrived this week in Ecuador and at least a million doses of Sinovac are expected next week.

New studies show that Sinovac vaccines are effective
Research results reported last week by the New England Journal of Medicine and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile found the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine to be “highly effective” in preventing severe cases of Covid-19. The findings followed widespread media articles noting rising numbers of Covid infections in countries that had used Sinovac, including Chile.

Although the New England Journal of Medicine found Sinovac less effective in preventing mild and moderate cases of the the virus than vaccines manufactured in Europe and the U.S., at 65.9 percent, it reported that the vaccines was “highly effective” at preventing hospitalization, ICU admissions and deaths, with rates of 87.5 percent, 86.3 and 92.3 percent respectively.

In their notes, the study’s authors said it appeared that articles reporting a surge of infections in countries using Sinovac appeared to show prejudice toward the Chinese government’s reluctance to provide more internal study details about the vaccine. “Even some medical and research personnel quoted in media reports seemed to allow personal opinions to cloud their judgement,” they said, adding that the Chinese have always reported information differently than U.S. and European medical studies.

A study carried out by Pontificia Universidad in Santiago, in cooperation with the Chilean Ministries of Health and Science, showed that less than two percent of fully vaccinated study group participants developed Covid-19 and that only 0.088% required hospitalization. Of those in the unvaccinated group, the infection rate was six percent with 1.7 percent requiring hospitalization. The study followed 2,300 volunteers.

Prices for computers and cameras headed down
Beginning August 1, the price of the average desktop computer will drop $120 while the cost of a professional-grade digital camera will be $180 lower. Prices for a broad range of computer and camera accessories and peripherals, such as memory storage devices, charging stations and games will also reduce. The reductions are the result of the government’s Comex trade committee’s decision to eliminate or reduce import tariffs on 667 products.

Motorcyle accidents in Cuenca are 500% percent more likely to involve injuries or deaths than automobile accidents.

Most tariffs on computers and computer equipment and cameras drops from 25 or 10 percent to 5 percent or are eliminated altogether.

David Llorente, imports buyer for Computron, says that tariffs on several important computer and electronic items remain in place, which he believes to be a mistake. “I am in touch with Comex about reducing import fees on computer monitors, which are not covered by the recent action,” he says. “Most desktop users today need monitors from 22 to 28 inches and some professionals need sizes of 32 inches and larger. I am asking that tariffs for these be removed or reduced as well.”

Concern for the high rate of motorcycle accidents
Cuenca transportation office, EMOV, says that Cuenca motorcyclist are more than 300 percent more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers of automobiles and trucks, and they are 500 percent more likely to be injured or killed in accidents.

EMOV spokeswoman Tina Cortez, says the agency is in talks with transit police and members of the Cuenca Municipal Council to find ways to reduce the accident rate. “We believe increased law enforcement is essential for reducing the numbers,” she says. “In the majority of accidents, motorcycle drivers disobeyed driving laws and often ignored traffic signals.”

She pointed out that of the 13 motorcyclist fatalities in 2021, eight involved traffic signal violations. Two of the deaths were the result of motorcyclists ignoring signals and colliding with the tram.