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Health & Insurance. 49

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by September 06 2021 0

As of today (September 6), more than 36.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines so far have gone into the arms of Colombians -- and that's likely to hit more than 40 million by September 30, according to latest Health Ministry statistics and forecasts.

What’s more, 15 million Colombians have now been fully vaccinated, along with 21.5 million partly vaccinated-- meaning that Colombia is moving ever-closer to its goal of getting its 35 million most-vulnerable populations protected against Covid-19 by the end of 2021.

Yet ironically, probably 90% of Colombians over the past 18 months have contracted at least one or another version of Covid-19 -- although most had only mild symptoms or unrealized (asymptomatic) effects, according to a new study by Colombia’s Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS, the national health research institute).

Officially, Colombia has recorded more than 4.9 million documented cases of Covid-19, with 125,278 deaths and 4.75 million recoveries, according to latest Health Ministry statistics.

But of Colombia’s total 50 million people, most have never been tested for Covid-19, the INS study showed. Because of that, INS employed a math formula to extrapolate likely infection rates among populations in 12 main cities where Colombians actually did get tested.

According to INS Director Martha Ospina, this math calculation indicates that likely 89% of Colombians have had one or another type of Covid-19 variant in their bodies since testing started here 18 months ago, though most didn't know it.

The “Mu” variant that now predominates in Colombia accounts for 53% of cases currently, she added.

With the more-dangerous Delta variant already here and likely to spread over the next few weeks, that means it’s even more important for Colombians -- and visitors -- to continue wearing masks, avoid crowds, regularly disinfect hands, keep safe distances and get vaccinated (if they still haven’t done that), she said.

In other words, it doesn’t matter if people have already been infected with some earlier, less-dangerous Covid variant. Unvaccinated people that luckily survived an earlier variant can’t be sure of protection against the latest variants -- and what's worse, they can become super-spreaders of Delta variant, sickening and killing many others.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz announced September 7 that Colombia now expects to receive 12.75 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from five pharmaceutical companies during September.

Of those, 2.35 million will come from Pfizer; 1.1 million from AstraZeneca; 4 million from Moderna; 2 million from Janssen; and 3 million from Sinovac.

In total, 76 municipalities in Colombia have already fully vaccinated at least 50% of target populations, helping to stem the spread of infections, slash deaths and cut hospitalization rates. But one-third of the latest vaccination reports have yet to be filed electronically with the Ministry – meaning that the actual vaccination rate is likely higher than the reported rate.

So far, the Ministry has already distributed nearly 40 million vaccinations to hospitals, clinics and health networks in Colombia, including 2.1 million shots being handled by private-sector companies that are vaccinating their employees. That’s likely to rise to 50 million by month’s-end -- and not a moment too soon, given the arrival of Delta variant.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by August 01 2021 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced July 31 that the nation is on its way to surpass a goal of at least 35 million vaccinations against Covid-19 by end-August 2021 – well ahead of schedule.

Vaccinations are now surging at more than 400,000 persons daily.

With Colombia already having 15.5 million people at least partially vaccinated as of July 31 -- along with 12.2 million now fully vaccinated -- this means Colombia looks on-target to exceed 35 million vaccinations by the end of this month (August).

As of July 31, Colombia had already achieved 27.5 million vaccinations -- 2.5 million more than originally targeted for July. If the nation can achieve an average of about 350,000 shots daily this month, then it will easily surpass the 35-million-shot goal for August.

Meanwhile, Colombia is expanding its vaccination campaign, adding everyone at least 18-years-old, starting this month. That will be followed by a second campaign for those at least 12 years old, starting in late August, according to Health Minister Fernando Ruiz.

The surging vaccination rates spur confidence that Colombia will indeed achieve its goal of getting all 35 million of its most vulnerable populations fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by December 2021.

Meanwhile, Medellin as of July 31 reported having completed 1.89 million total vaccinations, with nearly 900,000 now fully vaccinated – including 717,00 getting the required two-dose regime plus 182,000 more getting the Janssen one-dose shot, according to latest official statistics.

While anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists and some extremist politicians (now even including left-wing demagogue Senator Gustavo Petro) are attacking science-based Covid-19 vaccinations as "useless," President Duque in contrast urges citizens to stay the course.

“Getting vaccinated is everyone’s duty,” Duque stated, adding that the government aims to “quickly reach 30 million,” hence bringing the hoped-for "herd immunity" ever-closer.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by July 23 2021 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced this morning (July 23) that the U.S. government is shipping yet another 3.5 million doses of free Covid-19 vaccine to Colombia on Sunday, July 25 -- on top of 2.5 million doses earlier donated by the U.S. to Colombia last month.

This makes the U.S. government by far the biggest donor to Colombia in Covid-19 humanitarian aid.

According to the U.S Embassy in Bogota, the 6 million Covid-19 doses alone are worth US$52.5 million, while other forms of aid to Colombia this year to help confront the Covid crisis now total US$122.7 million.

To date, Colombia is the biggest single beneficiary of Covid-19 relief aid from the U.S. in the entire Latin American region, according to the Embassy.

Commenting on the new batch of 3.5 million Moderna vaccines coming to Colombia, President Duque stated: “We thank this gesture of solidarity by U.S. President Joe Biden with the Colombian people, which ratifies the strong relations between our countries.”

Meanwhile, Colombia just opened Covid-19 vaccinations to all residents 30-to-34-years-old, having earlier launched massive vaccination campaigns for various cohorts among those 35-years-and-older.

With Colombia already having surpassed more than 24 million vaccinations as of July 21 -- and 10 days of continuing vaccinations coming during the remainder of July -- the nation likely will have far surpassed its goal of having at least 25 million vaccinations by end-July, probably well in excess of 26 million.

While Colombia today doesn’t suffer so much from the sort of ignorant, hysterical, selfish,and politically bigoted anti-vaccine ideology as pushed by right-wing extremists in the U.S. – a phenomenon that ironically is infecting and killing thousands of people from the latest Covid-19 variation -- too many people here nevertheless have been lazy about getting their shots, as Health Ministry promotion director Gerson Bermont announced earlier this month.

As a result, only about 60% of people here between 50 to 59 years old here so far have been vaccinated, Bermont lamented.

While 20% of the entire Colombia population so far has been totally immunized, a lot of work remains to ensure that the 35 million of Colombia’s most-vulnerable populations are fully immunized by December 2021, he added.

As of July 20, 92.4% of those 80 years and older here have been vaccinated, along with 83% of people 75 to 79 years old, he said.

Another 82% of those between 70 to 74, plus 77.4% of those between 65 to 69, have been vaccinated, while 72.9% of those 60 to 64 also have been vaccinated, he added.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by July 07 2021 0

Colombia this week will surpass 20 million Covid-19 vaccinations -- and seems likely to surpass its goal of 25 million by end-July, according to latest Health Ministry forecasts.

Meanwhile, more than 1.25 million employees of nearly 6,000 private companies nationally this week are starting to get free Covid-19 shots thanks to massive investments by member-companies of Colombia’s biggest industrial-commercial trade association, ANDI (founded in Medellin).

“This is the most robust public-private alliance that has been achieved in the history of Colombia, where the national government made available its entire mechanism for the acquisition of vaccines, and companies are investing more than COP$285 billion (US$74.6 million) to reach Colombian workers and households,” ANDI President Bruce MacMaster explained.

In Antioquia, more than 150,000 workers at more than 450 member companies of ANDI are already lined-up for free, employer-paid vaccinations, according to ANDI-Antioquia director Alejandro Olaya. Among the first getting vaccinations: workers at Medellin-based utilities giant EPM, banking giant Bancolombia and clothing manufacturer Offcors, among many others.

Antioquian companies have already invested COP$40 billion (US$10.5 million) in free Covid-19 vaccines for their employees and their families, with each shot costing about COP$220,700 (US$58), including costs of Bogota-to-Medellin air transport, vaccine refrigeration and local distribution, Olaya added.

Beyond the new, private-sector vaccinations, Antioquia alone has already exceeded 2.9 million public vaccinations as of July 5, with Medellin accounting for 1.4 million of those doses.

Colombia has now moved into phase-four of its national public-vaccination campaign, offering free shots to people between 40 and 44 years old – having already vaccinated most people 45 years and older, including crucial cohorts such as front-line health workers, public safety workers and – in the next few days – the completion of vaccinations for the entire cohort of school teachers, as Colombia reopens in-person schooling July 15.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by June 30 2021 0

Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz announced today (June 30) that because of acceleration in Covid-19 vaccination rates, Colombia is likely to achieve its stated goal of having its 35 million most-vulnerable-people fully vaccinated by December 2021.

“We see an important growth in daily vaccinations, having started with an average of less than 50,000 per day but currently we are vaccinating more than 300,000 people daily, which gives us a vaccination rate enabling us to close this process in December 2021 with 35 million vaccinated,” Ruiz stated.

Deputy Health Minister Luis Alexander Moscoso added that thanks to growing international deliveries of vaccines, Colombia is exceeding its goal of delivering more than 1 million doses each week to cities, towns and territories throughout the country.

As of June 28, 17,570,929 doses had already been applied nationally, of which 6,331,714 correspond to second doses and 51,708 to single doses (the latter being the single-shot Janssen vaccine).

Meanwhile, Colombia has already received 24.8 million doses of vaccines from various manufacturers -- including 1.5 million doses just-now being provided this week to scores of private companies giving vaccinations to millions of their workers and families.

By September, 35 million Colombians will have received at least their first dose, with the remainder of vaccinations coming during the fourth quarter, according to Minister Ruizr.

Coverage with the first dose is already at 89% in people over 80 years of age; 79% in the 75-79 group; 77% in the 70-74 group; 73% for 65-69 year-olds; 67% for 60-64 years; 54% for 55-59 years; 44% for 50-54 years; and 9.5% in the just-opened 45-49 year-old-group. Front-line health workers are now 100% vaccinated, he added.

“Colombia is today the fourth country in Latin America in the number of vaccines applied and the second in speed of application since the beginning of the different programs. We will close June with more than 26 million vaccines received, not counting possible donations, making us the third biggest vaccinator in Latin America and with 4-million-more-people than we had earlier projected,” he added.

 

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by June 24 2021 0

Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz announced this morning (June 24) that Colombia has now exceeded 16 million Covid-19 vaccinations -- and is averaging close to 300,000 daily, making its 17-million total-vaccinations-target by end-June likely a certainty.

Of those 16 million nationwide vaccinations, 5.4 million are second shots – as required by almost all the approved Covid-19 pharmaceuticals except for the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine, according to the Health Ministry.

The first-ever batch of 480,000 Janssen Covid-19 vaccines just arrived yesterday in Colombia – targeted for remote towns and rural areas in Colombia where ultra-cold storage and two-shot regimens as required by the other pharmaceuticals are problematic, the Ministry noted.

Colombia has already received more than 20 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines, with another 1.5 million due this weekend, according to the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, Antioquia has surpassed 2.4 million vaccination shots -- and Medellin is now past 1.1 million, according to the latest government statistics (reports to June 23).

On another encouraging front -- starting next week -- private companies throughout Colombia will begin vaccinating millions of their employees, in parallel with all the other, existing public vaccination campaigns organized by the Health Ministry, local clinics, hospitals, municipal governments and “EPS” health-insurance networks.

Despite all this good news, the bad news is that Colombia this week just passed the 100,000-total-deaths mark since the Covid-19 pandemic started 16 months ago (in early 2020).

Covid-19 deaths nationally have been averaging close to 600 daily in the past month – an all-time record, with thousands of those deaths attributed to reckless, mass-spreader events at scores of “Comite del Paro” protest marches from late April until mid-June.

As a result of these mass-spreader events, intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy remains at a dangerously high 97% in Antioquia and at similar levels in Bogota, according to latest government statistics.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by May 09 2021 0

Colombia’s Health Ministry announced May 8 a new, updated Covid-19 vaccination plan on the heels of accelerating vaccination rates – now topping 200,000 daily, likely meaning that more than 10 million Colombians will have had at least one shot by the end of May 2021.

The plan adjustments “were made based on scientific evidence, which made it possible to identify new comorbidities in people with higher risk from the virus and other populations that, due to their exposure, have an increased risk of infection,” stated Health Ministry infectious-disease prevention director Gerson Bermont.

While virtually all of Colombia’s front-line health workers have long since been vaccinated under “Stage 1” of the national plan, the “next-in-line” health workers in the now-underway “Stage 2” include “all the human health workers in the EPS [health-provider networks], control bodies and different organizations that assist, accompany and validate the entire process of care and management of Covid,” Bermont said.

As for the “Stage 3” vaccinations starting this month, people with certain comorbidities (see below) will be included along with people between 50 and 59 years old. “Before now, this group was in Stage Five and now will go to Stage Three as a priority by age, taking into account that age continues to be the highest risk factor,” according to Bermont.

“Stage 4” now includes people aged 40 to 49 and all public-relief groups. Meanwhile, “Stage 5” will including people aged 16 to 39 years without comorbidities.

Here are all the updated categories, according to the Health Ministry:

Stage 2: Population between 60 and 79 years of age.
“Includes all health professionals in compulsory social service; resident physicians and their teachers within the framework of the teaching-service agreements and internal physicians of all health service providers of any level of complexity who carry out their activities in any of the services provided by health service providers and who do not are classified in stage 1.

“Also includes human talent in health and support that attends patients in health service providers, traditional doctors, ancestral physicians, private health agents and health students in clinical practice.

“Also includes human talent that supports the response to the pandemic, the National Vaccination Plan, the Expanded Plan for Immunization and Inspection, Surveillance and Control, plus human talent in health that cares for patients or visits providers in spaces other than the IPS, as well as human talent that works in blood, organ and tissue banks.”

Stage 3: “Population between 50 and 59 years old, as well as population between 16 and 59 years old, presenting at least one of the following conditions: Hypertensive diseases; acute ischemic heart disease; heart failure; cardiac arrhythmias; cerebrovascular disease; diabetes; renal insufficiency; HIV; cancer; tuberculosis; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; asthma; Obesity Grade 1, 2 and 3 (Body Mass Index> 30); those on the waiting list for transplantation of vital organs; post transplant of vital organs; neurological disorders; Down's Syndrome; primary immunodeficiency; schizophrenia, schizotypal disorder, and delusional disorders; autism; bipolar disorder; intellectual disability and other mental disorders due to brain injury or dysfunction or somatic disease; cystic fibrosis.

“Also includes educational agents, community mothers and fathers linked to early childhood services, identified by [child-welfare agency] ICBF; teachers, educational directors, logistical and administrative support personnel of initial education, preschool, basic primary, basic secondary, secondary education and higher education establishments; caregivers of populations of special protection; public force; indigenous guard and maroon guard; human talent from funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries that handle corpses; Search Unit Personnel; Colombian Migration Personnel; highest national, municipal, district and departmental Police and Health authorites; personnel of the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation.

Stage 4: “People in prisons; personnel who, due to their functions, are in direct contact with prisoners; first responders in risk management; street dwellers; human talent that works in social services for the attention of the homeless population; active international flight attendants and pilots and crew of international cargo ships; high risk aeronautical personnel; human talent of the Family Protective Service Stations in charge of the care and protection of victims of domestic violence; UNGRD emergency and disaster field care human talent staff; and people aged 40 to 49 years.

Stage 5: “People aged 16 years and over not found in the populations indicated in stages 1, 2, 3 and 4. Priority in this group includes adults between 30 and 39 years of age, then young people and adolescents.”

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by April 22 2021 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced April 21 that while 4 million Colombians have already received at least one shot of Covid-19 vaccine, that number will have topped 5 million by May 4, thanks to accelerating vaccination rates.

Meanwhile, Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suarez revealed April 21 that 600,000 people in Antioquia (including metro Medellin) – 10% of its total population – have already gotten at least one shot, as 74% of the 703,000 doses provided to Antioquia through the national government’s “MiVacuna” program have been applied into arms.

Nationally, Colombia now has more than 40,000 trained and certified Covid vaccinators, with another 20,000 undergoing final training, President Duque added.

As a result, Colombia is on-track to boost vaccination capacity to 200,000 people daily, hence enabling the nation to meet its target of getting 35 million of the most-vulnerable Colombians (70% of the total population) vaccinated before year-end 2021, he said.

On the supply front, Pfizer just delivered another 550,000 doses of its vaccine to Colombia, while Sinovac will have delivered another 2 million of its vaccines by early May, he said.

In total, Colombia already has bought 67 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, including 20 million through the “Covax” multinational consortium.

By pharmaceutical provider, Pfizer is providing 10 million doses (covering 5 million Colombians); AstraZeneca is providing 10 million doses (for 5 million people); Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) will deliver 9 million doses (covering 9 million people); Sinovac is providing 7.5 million doses (for 3.7 million people) and Moderna is providing 10 million doses for 5 million people, according to Colombia’s Health Ministry.

According to the Health Ministry, as of April 20, 896,839 Colombians 80 years and older had gotten at least one Covid shot (80% of that cohort), while 75% of front-line health workers (totaling 708,350 persons) likewise had gotten a shot.

One-third of Colombians 70 to 79 years old meanwhile have gotten at least one shot, while 89,360 persons 65 to 69 years old have gotten a shot to date, according to the Ministry.

In May, the national vaccination campaign extends to persons 18 to 59 years old -- if they suffer medical co-morbidities, including those with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, as well as those with cancer, AIDs and other diseases, according to the Ministry.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by March 15 2021 0

Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz revealed this morning (March 15) that more than 1 million people nationally will have received their first shot of Covid-19 vaccine this week, with 1.8 million likely by end-March.

As of March 13, 782,301 Colombians had gotten a Covid-19 shot since the vaccination campaign started 25 days ago, of which 108,456 were in Antioquia – most of those (more than 70,000), in the Medellin metro area.

“We have a vaccination rate that already shows consistent and well distributed numbers,” Minister Ruiz stated in a press release.

By the end of this March, some 85% of the “phase one” priority group – front-line health workers and those over 80 years of age – are expected to be vaccinated, he said.

With about 4,500 trained vaccinators now giving an average of 50 to 80 shots per day (depending upon region), that means Colombia is now averaging 80,000 shots per day.

“But next month [April] where we will have a much larger stock of vaccines, from 5 million to 8 million vaccines, most likely closer to the 8 million, we will be addressing the entire population of those over 60 years of age, which is more than 7 million people. We hope that this vaccination [campaign] will approach the 200,000 vaccinations per day,” Ruiz added.

While pharmaceutical companies have confirmed their plans to deliver millions of vaccines to Colombia next month, the exact days are still uncertain, he cautioned.

“We do not have much control over the issue [of exact arrival days]; hopefully we can have them in time” to meet the “phase two” goal of vaccinating another 7 million people in April, Ruiz added.

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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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