SANTIAGO — Having negotiated early access to tens of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines, Chile has been inoculating its residents faster than any other country in the Americas and appears poised to be among the first in the world to reach herd immunity.
But experts say the country’s speedy and efficient vaccination drive — only Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Seychelles have vaccinated a larger share of their populations — gave Chileans a false sense of security and contributed to a sharp spike in new infections and deaths that is overloading the health care system.
The surge in cases, even as more than one third of Chile’s population has received at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, serves as a cautionary tale for other nations looking to vaccination drives to quickly put an end to the era of beleaguered economies, closed borders, and social distancing. The rise in cases triggered a new set of strict lockdown measures that have restricted mobility for nearly 14 million people.
said in a statement Sunday, arguing that the current state of the pandemic was not conducive to holding a vote that was “democratic, inclusive and safe.”
While more than six million of the country’s 18 million people have been vaccinated, a surge in infections has left intensive care units operating with few beds to spare and the system at a breaking point.
Last week Chile recorded 7,626 new Covid-19 cases in a single day, a record, and the pace of new infections has doubled in the past month. The main hospital in the coastal city of Valparaíso had to create an overflow morgue over the weekend. Health officials in Chile have identified cases of new variants that were first identified in the United Kingdom and Brazil.
created a permit system for Chileans to go on summer vacation.