UK 'must learn lessons' after Covid cases in Chile rise despite vaccine rollout

Britain needs to learn from other countries that are ahead of the pack when it comes to introducing vaccines, England’s chief medical officer has warned.

Professor Chris Whitty said Monday at a press conference on Downing Street that while Chile had vaccinated a “significant” portion of its population in South America, Covid-19 rates had not fallen.

He said, “Is it because of the vaccines used? Is it because of when things were actually introduced? Is it because of certain interactions with other variants? We don’t know yet.

“It is imperative that we learn from the countries that are ahead of us or next to us when it comes to introducing vaccines.”

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He added, “Assuming you vaccinate a lot of people and the problem goes away, I think Chile is a good fix for that.”

Britain has given over 31.5 million people a first dose of vaccine, leading some members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party to urge him to end England’s lockdown sooner.

But Chile, which also has one of the fastest vaccination rates in the world, has closed its borders and tightened an already strict lockdown.

A woman receives a vaccine as part of the seasonal flu vaccination campaign during coronavirus disease in Chile

Chris Whitty said Chile’s experience was different from Israel’s and it was unclear whether this was due to timing of introduction, vaccines used, interactions with coronavirus variants, or other factors.

Chile has now vaccinated more than 36 percent of its population. the Manchester Evening News reported.

The rollout began in December last year, just after the UK, starting with medical staff.

By the end of January, Chile had received four million doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine and was able to speed up vaccination.

A vaccination center in Chile

UK 'must learn lessons' after Covid cases in Chile rise despite vaccine rollout 1

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The country had administered more than 100,000 shots almost every day since the beginning of February, which had more than tripled by mid-March.

No other country in Latin America has achieved the success of Chile. Both Brazil and Argentina, for example, have only vaccinated around 7.8 percent of the population.

Lockdown measures were carried out in several areas in March, including the Chilean capital, Santiago, affecting more than 9 million residents.

Then, when the total number of cases registered by Chile exceeded 1 million on April 1, the government announced it would close the borders for 30 days and start a curfew from 9 p.m.

Some stores also had to close, while supermarkets were only directed to sell essential goods such as groceries, medicines and hygiene products.

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