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Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz revealed last night (January 12) that the first 850,000 people here to get Covid-19 vaccinations will get their shots in February.  Assuming compliance with projected delivery and distribution schedules, the tentative vaccination plan includes:

February: 850,000 people vaccinated.
March: 3,862,900.
April: 1,800,000.
May: 7,968,900.
June: 3,360,000.
July: 8,431,567.
August: 6,382,667.
September: 3,779,567.
October: 7,212,900.
November: 3,212,900.
December: 2,097,011.

The COP$1.5 trillion (US$432 million) budgeted on vaccinations so far include Pfizer vaccines -- soon arriving here -- while Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines are scheduled to arrive between April and May 2021, Ruiz said.

The initial plan would vaccinate the 34 million most-vulnerable Colombians, with contracts for 29 million immunizations “already guaranteed,” Ruiz said.

Under the “Covax” multinational vaccine-purchase program, Colombia already has 20 million doses guaranteed (two per person required), hence this program will cover 10 million inhabitants.

“An agreement has been established with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer for 10 million doses, which will be destined for 5 million people, as well as with the pharmaceutical company Janssen, a single dose, for 9 million people, and with AstraZeneca with 10 million doses for 5 million Colombians,” according to the Ministry.

“Distribution mechanisms are being established with Pfizer. It is projected that vaccinations will begin with the prioritized populations in February,” then more doses through the Covax program will continue in March, Ruiz said.

“Probably May, June and July will be the months where we have the greatest amount of vaccinations. Those from Janssen and AstraZeneca would be arriving in the country from April or May 2020,” he added.

Meanwhile, the national government “has established talks with other pharmaceutical companies, whose vaccine developments are expected to be approved by international authorities for emergency use in the coming weeks. Surely, these would be applied for the second half of this year,” he said.

Colombia today has about 3,000 vaccination points and 7,000 vaccinators, "but we must grow in that capacity, for that reason the training course ‘Management of Vaccination Against Covid-19 in Colombia’ was developed with [Colombia’s national training institute] SENA, with which we seek to support the territories throughout the vaccinator training process," Ruiz said.

Doctors, nurses, dentists, bacteriologists, nursing and public health assistants or technicians will be able to access the training course, he added.

Ultra-Cold Storage Capacity Grows

On a related front, Gerson Bermont, director of prevention at the Ministry of Health, revealed that Colombia now has two special large-capacity warehouses in Bogota for initial receipt of “up to 40 million vaccines at a single moment” while nationwide, "Colombia has 37 collection centers for the storage and conservation of vaccines."

“The first vaccines to arrive in Colombia require deep freezing and from this moment there are eight [ultra-cold freezer] distribution points in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla, Cartagena and Pereira,” he said.

“At the national level, we have 2,975 vaccination points equipped with cold equipment certified by the World Health Organization (WHO,” Bermont added.

CDC Mandates Covid-19 Tests International Arrivals

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced yesterday that starting January 26, all international airline passengers must show proof of having passed a Covid-19 infection test within 96 hours of boarding a flight to the USA from Colombia (or from anywhere else). As a result, the USA joins Colombia and  some100 other nations mandating Covid-19 infection tests and/or quarantines for all international passengers.

“With the U.S. already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the [North] American public,” according to CDC.

“Before departure to the United States, a required test, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again three-to-five days after arrival and stay home for seven days post-travel, will help slow the spread of Covid-19 within U.S. communities from travel-related infections,” according to CDC.

“Air passengers are required to get a viral test [either PCR or antigen] within the three days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from Covid-19.

“Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, [then] the airline must deny boarding to the passenger,” the agency added.


Medellin-based electric power giant EPM announced this morning (January 13) that it has petitioned an Antioquia Administrative Court in Medellin to assume jurisdiction over its COP$9.9 trillion (US$2.85 billion) lawsuit against Hidroituango construction contractors.

The petition to the Court follows the failure last week of a “conciliation” procedure that had been supervised by Colombia’s Solicitor-General.

EPM now simultaneously asks the Medellin Chamber of Commerce to assume arbitration of its related COP$5.5 trillion (US$1.58 billion) claim against insurer Mapfre for its supposed coverage of losses arising from a diversion-tunnel collapse at the Hidroituango hydroelectric project in 2018.

The petition to move the main damages claim against Hidroituango contractors to an Antioquia Administrative Court now faces a venue fight, as the contractors have instead petitioned for an international tribunal to settle the dispute. Rationale: One of the three main construction contractors isn’t Colombian, but is instead Brazil-based Camargo Correa Infra. The other two are Colombian companies Conconcreto and Coninsa-Ramón H.

EPM asserts that it initially moved to bring a “conciliation” suit against the contractors last year because of a supposed two-year legal deadline to bring claims following the April 28, 2018 diversion-tunnel collapse.

This EPM argument is disputed by former Colombia Supreme Court Justice Javier Tamayo Jaramillo, now head of the Medellin law firm of Tamayo Jaramillo & Associates.

In a legal analysis submitted by Tamayo to the “Todos Por Medellin” civic group last month, Tamayo explains that the actual legal deadline for filing such a damages claim instead would come within two years following the expiration of the construction contract, not the two years following the tunnel collapse incident.

“There is almost absolute doctrinal and jurisprudential unanimity in that the expiration date of this type of actions is counted from the settlement of the respective contract, which, to date, has not occurred,” Tamayo states in his legal opinion.

“What was the desire to file a lawsuit against so many defendants without having sufficient proof of their responsibility or even knowing the intensity of the damages or the value of them? Was it a matter of causing a media impact to create the feeling that the previous [EPM] administration was going to let EPM’s actions against those responsible for [the tunnel collapse] expire?”

The new EPM lawsuit claims that the construction contractors as well as insurers Suramericana, Chubb Seguros and Mapfre now must answer its claims in court or else in arbitration.

While Mapfre “has recognized the coverage of the [tunnel-collapse] event and has ratified it in the framework of the conciliation hearings, we are still working on the determination of the compensable amounts in the insurance [policy] conditions, based on the fact that this claim is the largest worldwide in terms of All Risks Construction and Assemblies, and is therefore subject to study and review throughout the insurance market,” according to EPM.

“It is for this reason, and no other, that it was not possible to arrive at a figure that would allow us to satisfactorily terminate the preliminary ruling conciliation process. Mapfre confirmed that its main interest is to cover all compensable losses, in accordance with the insurance conditions.

“Based on the foregoing, the EPM Group ratifies its commitment to advance in the technical adjustment process until compensation for losses is achieved within the framework of the insurance contract signed with the Mapfre company.”

Meanwhile, “in both judicial scenarios, conciliation exercises are contemplated, which offer us a new opportunity to seek a comprehensive solution to the differences derived from the contingency,” according to EPM.

Contractors Dispute Claims

According to the “CCC Ituango Consortium” of Hidroituango construction contractors, they now seek international arbitration and will file counter-claims against EPM.

“The consortium reiterates its interest in demonstrating that in the execution of the civil works under its charge, it has not only acted in good faith but diligently and in accordance with good engineering practices, complying with the designs and instructions provided by Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM),” according to CCC Ituango’s official press bulletin, reacting to the “conciliation” failure.

“Having extended the contract at the end of December [2020] by EPM, the consortium will continue executing the work in the same way as it has always done: complying with its contractual obligations, maintaining adequate quality standards and meeting technical requirements. and designs supplied by EPM itself.

“The consortium remains firm in its commitment to take Hidroituango forward, understanding that this requires collaborative work with the other contractors of the project, but above all, having the adequate coordination of EPM so that the objectives of the project are met.

“The CCC Ituango Consortium is led by Camargo Correa Infra and as a [Brazilian] foreign partner we will submit the [lawsuit demand] differences to an international court, where technical and legal arguments prevail to make clear the actions of the consortium in the [diversion-tunnel collapse] contingency of April 2018.

“At the same time, we are forced to seek to compensate the reputational and economic impact that this unique claim has been causing for the Consortium,” the bulletin concludes.

EPM Trade Union Slams Lawsuit Decision

Meanwhile, Sinpro – EPM’s biggest employee trade union – likewise slammed EPM’s failure to settle the claims under friendly “conciliation” terms.

“We have indicated since September [2020] that EPM’s claim of COP$9.9 trillion from the contractors represents great risks for the company’s finances and for the development of Medellin and Antioquia, as there could be a possible counterclaim from the contractors with possible consequences in the qualifications of [Wall Street bond-rating] risk qualifiers and the possible loss of part of the [Mapfre] insurance coverage, without taking into account what it implies for the contractors.

“These are the risks that the Mayor of Medellin, the [recently installed] Board of Directors of EPM and the [recently named] general manager of EPM are now bringing upon the company in a new display of folly where it is evident that personal and political interests prevail over legal interests and of the community,” Sinpro warned.

The Sinpro charge alludes to Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero’s bypassing of the prior EPM Board of Directors last year in bringing a lawsuit against Hidroituango contractors that potentially could cost EPM billions of dollars in counter-claims.

If successful, counter-claims could wreck city-owned EPM’s finances for years or even decades to come – all triggered by politically self-interested, sweepingly populist claims that portray Mayor Quintero as standing-up to Medellin’s “corrupt” business sector.

However, this claim is publicly and sharply disputed by dozens of commercial and industrial trade associations, several trade unions and many civic groups, some of whom are calling for Mayor Quintero to be removed from office via a recall petition.


Smurfit Kappa Colombia on January 4 announced a US$50 million investment in a new corrugated-cardboard plant in Guarne, Antioquia, just east of Medellin.

To make way for the new plant, Smurfit Kappa recently sold a lot in Medellin that hosts its existing, 60-years-old "Carton de Colombia" plant.

Colombia Real Estate Fund-FIC, Arquitectura y Concreto and Londoño Gómez paid Smurfit Kappa US$50.3 million to acquire the Medellin lot for a new urban-development project, according to Smurfit.

“As of the first quarter of 2021, the construction of the new plant [in Guarne] begins, with an investment of US$50 million, including a totally new, state-of-the-art corrugator [production line], and new printing and finishing machines for cardboard boxes, as well as relocation of the current plant equipment,” according to the company.

“The new plant will enter into operation towards the end of 2023, with 50% greater capacity and designed to grow modularly until its capacity is doubled.

“In this way, Smurfit Kappa will generate more quality jobs in the region, both in the construction phase -- around 345 direct and indirect jobs -- and with the expansion of its production capacity. It will also strengthen its portfolio of packaging solutions for the mass consumption, industrial and agricultural sectors, including flowers and bananas, among others.”

The new plant will have Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification “for sustainable construction and will make available to customers a 'packaging experience center,' a space dedicated to innovation, where they can experience the design of their packaging with cutting-edge methodologies and tools, exclusive to Smurfit Kappa,” according to the company .

According to Alvaro José Henao, President of Smurfit Kappa for Colombia, Ecuador, Central America and the Caribbean, “with a market that increasingly demands sustainable, innovative and efficient packaging, investing in Colombia continues to be a great bet for the Smurfit Kappa Group.”


The Medellin Mayor’s Office on January 5 issued a bulletin updating plans to begin Covid-19 vaccinations in February. The first phase of 86,526 doses of the vaccine will be administered to front-line health-care workers and adults 80-and-over, next month.

That will be followed by a second phase covering those 60 to 79 plus second-line health-care workers, then a third phase including those aged 16 to 59 and those with co-morbidities, collectively totaling 384,370 people, according to the Mayor’s Office.

“Thanks to the ‘Medellín Me Cuida’ platform, the municipal administration knows the location of the prioritized population,” according to the bulletin. “Seven [ultra-cold] freezers will arrive in the city and will serve to distribute doses to the entire Antioquia territory and other departments.”

The first phase will tap Pfizer and Aztrazeneca-Oxford vaccines in February, according to the national government’s distribution schedule.

Medellin’s Secretary of Government Esteban Restrepo added that “we are working in an articulated manner to achieve a successful process of scheduling and applying the vaccine. We will have 94 vaccination points in the city” manned by 282 vaccination teams, he added.

‘Mi Vacuna’ Scheduling App to Debut

On a related front, Colombia’s Health Ministry announced January 5 that it will debut a cell-phone application called “Mi Vacuna” later this month so that people will know when and where they can get vaccinated.

According to the Ministry bulletin, “the Ministry of Health will have the databases of the population subject to vaccination in order to carry out the identification, assignment of the vaccination appointment and follow-up to the vaccination in the IPS [hospital or clinic] assigned for each individual, by the [EPS health-insurance networks] and the territorial entities.

“Insurers and territorial entities must monitor and confirm the vaccination appointment to users, in order to guarantee access and compliance with hygienic sanitary measures for the prevention of contagion during the vaccination strategy.”

To register for vaccinations, “an access link is currently under development on the Ministry’s web portal, in which any person can enter and through their [cedula] identification number verify the [schedule] phase and stage in which they are to receive their vaccine against Covid-19. If you are not registered, then you can apply by reporting the criteria for prioritization, which will be verified and confirmed by the insurer.

“The EPS (Benefit Plan Administration Entities) must assign each insured user to the vaccination IPS in the municipality of residence and close to home in order to guarantee timely access to vaccination. In the same way, the territorial entities responsible for the health of the uninsured poor population will assign the vaccination IPS under the same conditions of the insurers.

“During the vaccination [implementation], populations will not be massively summoned in order to avoid crowds. In this sense it is necessary that appointments be established by the institutions that provide the vaccination service. For health professionals, this vaccination will be carried out directly in clinics and hospitals with mobile teams in accordance with the strategy established by the territory.

“The IPS must inform each EPS and territorial entity the appointment assigned so that the platform is updated by the insurers and allows the individual consultation by the population to determine the phase and stage of vaccination, as well as the place, date and time of appointment for the application of the vaccine.

“Once the data has been included in the ‘Mi Vacuna’ Covid-19 platform, the population can make queries through the hotlines, website and access the 'ABC for Covid-19' vaccination site. If you meet the criteria for vaccination, then review and remember your appointment assigned by the IPS, access the informed consent [forms] which you must present at the time of vaccination, and attend the vaccination on time.”

Vaccinations will be voluntary, not mandatory, the Ministry added.


Colombia’s Health Vice-Minister Luis Alexander Moscoso announced today (January 4) that following a Bogota federal court order, all international passengers flying to Colombia must pass a PCR test for Covid-19 infections, effective immediately.

Those passengers that haven’t passed a PCR test up-to-96 hours before boarding an international flight to Colombia as of today will have to remain in quarantine for 14 days, Moscoso said. In addition, travelers lacking proof of passing a PCR test and exhibiting symptoms such as fever and respiratory problems cannot board the flight, according to the Ministry.

Staring January 12, those passengers that failed to get a PCR test in country of origin before boarding an international flight to Colombia can instead get a PCR test in Colombia, he said.

The test mandate affects all persons from babies to adults, no exceptions.

Colombia had abolished the PCR requirement last year but a Bogota district court judge ordered its reimposition in November. The Health Ministry at first objected to the ruling but now is forced to comply, Moscoso said.


Medellin and Antioquia governments announced December 30 that a total quarantine will be imposed here from 8 pm Thursday December 31 to 6 am Sunday January 3 because of surging cases of Covid-19.

Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suárez Vélez pointed out that Antioquia is suffering about 2,000 new cases daily of Covid-19, flooding hospitals to dangerous levels of crowding.

Department-wide, Antioquia hospital beds are now almost 83% full, while Medellin is at 87%, Valle de Aburrá at 86% and the “Oriente” (eastern Medellin suburbs) at an astounding 96.7%, he said.

The total quarantine applies to all-but-essential workers and emergency situations. Residents can order food, medicine and grocery deliveries, or make emergency trips to hospitals, but restaurants, bars, pharmacies and grocery stores won’t allow personal shoppers.

More Vaccines Coming

Meanwhile, Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz announced today (December 31) that the nation just inked a deal with pharmaceutical giant Janssen for 9 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, on top of earlier deals with other companies for 40 million doses.

“This vaccine will be approved in the coming months by the FDA [U.S. Food & Drug Administration],” Ruiz announced.

The Janssen vaccine, unlike the Pfizer double-dose vaccine, requires only a single dose.

“The reality is that everything will be known with the analysis and data from phase 3 trials, which we are waiting for,” Ruiz said, adding that “this has been one of the lowest-cost vaccines acquired” by the Ministry to date.

People previously infected by Covid-19 and now recovered won’t be in the first phase of vaccinations, nor will people under-16 years old nor pregnant women, he said.

Military personnel, school teachers and people with comorbidities will be in the phase-2 schedule of vaccinations, he added.

Persons seeking vaccinations through their private doctors rather than through the government-funded, nationwide free vaccination program “must register on the [Covid-19 vaccination] platform to have a correct handling of the information and avoiding, for example, a double vaccination,” he added.

“Private individuals will be able to sell [vaccinations]. Surely in the second half of 2021 the countries that bought more than their population requires will be selling. We will have a second wave of vaccine developments, taking into account that there are currently more than 100 developments, and that will lead to lower the price and expand offers privately,” Ruiz explained.


Medellin-based electric power giant EPM announced December 22 that it reached agreements with all current construction, supervisory and consultancy companies to continue construction of the estimated US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt Hidroituango hydroelectric dam in Antioquia.

The contract renewals run through December 31, 2021, but could be extended until the entire project is completed, likely in 2024.

EPM general manager Álvaro Guillermo Rendón López added that “some clauses were included that will allow the contract to be extended -- once future validations are completed -- until the end of the project.”

CCC Ituango construction consortium leader Juan Luis Aristizábal Vélez -- president of construction giant Conconcreto -- added that “the signing of this contract is a sign of commitment to the project,” as it avoids costly problems that would arise if some new contractor were forced to take-over the project.

The three new contract extensions include:

1. Consulting via Consorcio Generación Ituango, which includes Integral Ingeniería de Supervisión S.A.S. and Integral Ingeniería de Consulta S.A.

2. Auditing services for civil works and electromechanical equipment, via Ingetec-Sedic Consortium.

3. Continuing construction of the dam works, power plant and associated projects via the CCC Ituango Consortium, which includes Camargo Corrêa Infra S.A, Constructora Conconcreto S.A. and Coninsa-Ramón H. S.A..

During 2021, “extension of these contracts will be sought to the extent that EPM has the assigned budgetary resources and all technical and legal requirements are met,” according to EPM.

“The three main contractors have expressed their desire and commitment to continue advancing in the development of the project and take it until commissioning,” with the first portion of power generation scheduled to start in 2022 and the final set of generation units starting-up in 2024.

EPM’s biggest trade union Sinpro praised the new agreement that extends the existing contracts -- even in the face of EPM's questionable “conciliation” lawsuit against the current contractors as pushed by Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero and EPM’s new general manager this year.

That lawsuit could have prompted the current contractors to abandon the project, adding even more delays that could have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of lost power sales and regulatory power-provision penalties, Sinpro explained.

Meanwhile, “conciliation” lawsuit talks continue, with hopes that all parties soon come to a friendly agreement that would resolve confusing, contradictory claims about responsibilities for an earlier tunnel collapse at the project. EPM claims that financial damages resulting from the tunnel collapse total COP$9.9 trillion (US$2.8 billion). 

However, lacking a reasonable, fair settlement of such claims among all responsible parties (including EPM itself, which shares at least some blame), EPM's lawsuit potentially could endanger hundreds of millions of dollars of existing Hidroituango insurance payments -- and trigger counter-suits that potentially could cost EPM billions of dollars, according to Sinpro.


Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero announced December 19 that 338 vaccination teams throughout the city are gearing-up to administer 800,000 Covid-19 vaccinations starting in February.

“Those people who are part of the population that will be vaccinated in the first stage will receive information and instructions through the ‘Medellín Me Cuida’ [application],” according to the Mayor’s Office.

The vaccination plan “appropriately prioritizes people who are in the front line of health care, those over 80 years old, those over 60 years old and those with comorbidities,” according to the Office.

Paired with the 338 vaccination teams, “there will also be vaccination centers in each commune and logistics centers with super freezers for vaccines,” according to the Office.

Thanks to the “Medellín Me Cuida” application, “there is information on more than 3 million citizens and the location of those people over 80 who will be vaccinated in the initial stage is known,” according to the Office.

Highest-priority people “together with their families will receive text messages during the first days of January with relevant instructions related to the place of vaccination in your neighborhood and the corresponding registry,” according to the Office.


Colombia President Ivan Duque announced last night (December 18) in a nationally televised address that Colombia now has guaranteed supplies of 40 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in deals with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the Covax multinational consortium.

As a result, “in the first weeks of 2021 we are advancing the process of mass vaccination,” Duque revealed.

“The agreement with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer for the acquisition of 10 million doses has been closed. The agreement with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the acquisition of 10 million doses has also been closed. And we have also closed our agreement through the Covax platform, to acquire 20 million doses.

“This initially gives us 40 million doses, to make available in our country a vaccine dispersal process that provides broad coverage in the Colombian population,” he added.

The complete plan includes vaccination prioritization of vulnerable populations including health-care workers and people over 60 years old. It also includes a logistics plan, criteria developed by a technical committee and cold-vaccine chains-of-custody all the way through the supply chain.

Finally, President Duque warned that, even with the vaccinations starting in early 2021, "we must bear in mind that this does not mean that the pandemic is gone."

Health Ministry’s Five-Stage Plan

During the same broadcast, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz Gómez explained the free-vaccination rollout scheme for 20 million people here (two doses per person).

The government signed the contract with AstraZeneca on December 16 for 10 million doses, and on December 17 with Pfizer, likewise for 10 million doses, he said.

In addition, since October 30, the multilateral agreement with the Covax mechanism was signed for 20 million doses, for a total of 40 million that will arrive in Colombia during 2021.

“We will be doing the entire [vaccination] enlistment process during January,” Minister Ruiz explained.

“We will be starting mass vaccination in February and if, as in other countries, we have access to trial vaccines, we will also be starting trial vaccination processes in January,” he added.

The first-phase rollout aims to “reduce mortality and the incidence of severe cases of Covid-19, as well as to protect health workers; while the second phase is to reduce the contagion to generate herd immunity,” he said.

Colombia’s total population in 2021 is projected at 51 million inhabitants. “In order to generate herd immunity, according to scientific evidence, it is necessary to vaccinate 70% of the population, which is equivalent to 35.7 million Colombians,” he said.

Since data gathering started in February, a cumulative total of 1.5 million Colombians have contracted Covid-19, he said.

Those previously infected people “will not be included in the initial phase of the vaccination program. In other words, the total number of people to be vaccinated to promote herd immunity is 34.2 million, a figure that may change according to the evolution of the pandemic,” according to the Ministry.

“At this moment, with the vaccines already acquired, which represent [vaccinations for] 20 million people, we can say that we have already acquired 58.4% of the vaccines for phase 1 and the beginning of phase 2,” Ruiz said.

As a result, the Colombian government “is already in negotiations to complete the number needed to vaccinate the more than 34 million people,” according to the Ministry.

Minors 16 years and younger “will not be subject to immunization in the first instance until there is scientific evidence that guarantees safety in that population,” according to the Ministry.

Those with pre-existing health problems (11 million Colombians) including hypertensive diseases, diabetes, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, HIV, cancer , tuberculosis, hepatitis-C and obesity will be in the first-priority vaccination group .

In addition, 7.6 million people aged 60 and over, plus 1.2 million health workers, are also in the first-priority group for vaccination.

Here is the full five-phase vaccination schedule:

Phase 1:

—Stage 1 (1.69 million people): First-line health and support workers, as well as those over 80, who represent the greatest risk.

—Stage 2 (7. million people): populations from 60 to 79 years old and second- and third-line health workers.

—Stage 3 (2.9 million people): populations aged 16 to 59 with comorbidities, as well as elementary and high school teachers.

Phase 2

—Stage 4 (4.9 million people): institutional caregivers, populations in occupations with higher-risk situations.

—Stage 5 (17.5 million people): populations between 16 and 59 years and free of comorbidities.

The vaccinations requiring special cold-storage will be shipped to Colombia via air to a special Ministry warehouse. From there, the vaccines will be shipped to 30 regional and district warehouses and then to hospitals, clinics and other vaccination points, Ruiz said.

“In the case of vaccines that require deep freezing, this is a new challenge for the world; however, Colombia has already been working on the requirements for two months with the company Pfizer,” according to the Ministry.

“We are in continuous contact with the laboratories to establish how we can set up the process. At first it seemed very complex, but we already have the design from the engineering and medical part as well,” Ruiz revealed.

Colombia will have Pfizer vaccines made via direct purchase, as well as Moderna vaccines through the Covax mechanism, according to the Ministry.

For the ultra-cold requirements of the Pfizer vaccine, “we are in the process of acquiring 44 freezers that will be available in January” Ruiz said.

“We will have databases that will include the identification of people according to their health conditions, and we will have a mechanism so that they can register if necessary if they meet the criteria of over 60 years or with comorbidity,” Ruiz said.

Each person will be given a specific time and date for vaccination at clinics and hospitals “where the vaccination procedure will be explained, an informed consent will be issued since vaccination is voluntary, and a card will be delivered with date for the second dose,” according to the Ministry.

Colombia already has installed capacity of 7,920 vaccinators, capable of applying 277,200 vaccines per day.

“This allows us to have the peace of mind that there is sufficient capacity to carry out vaccination at the national level,” the Minister added.


Colombia’s highway infrastructure agency Invias announced December 17 that it is gradually reopening two-way traffic on the Medellin-Bogota highway at kilometer 46, blocked by a recent landslide. 

“So far, 3,500 cubic meters of material have been removed and progress is being made in the controlled unloading of 40,000 cubic meters of loose material for safe removal,” according to Invias.

To remove the landslide and enable a temporary traffic bypass, Invias is using 14 earth-moving machines and also buiding a temporary dike to halt further landslides in the area, according to the agency.

Invias Director Juan Esteban Romero Toro added that "if weather and security conditions allow, we will keep mobility enabled in the corridor through a variant” built 15 meters distant from the adjacent landslide area.

The new variant “will allow the passage to be maintained in a bidirectional manner 24 hours a day, guaranteeing the safety of users,” according to Invias.

Highway users can dial the “#767” information number for updated information on the state of highway reconstruction work, according to the agency.


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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.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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