© Reuters. A person carrying a face masks walks close to the doorway of the Synlab laboratory the place assessments for the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) are processed at El Dorado airport in Bogota
By Julia Symmes Cobb
BOGOTA (Reuters) – In a warehouse close to Bogota’s airport, behind a heavy chilly storage door, sit containers upon containers of lifesaving vaccines for all the things from yellow fever to polio, awaiting transport to the furthest reaches of Colombia.
The tall cabinets, saved at a chill 5 levels Celsius (41 levels Fahrenheit), are half-empty – leaving loads of room for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.
Colombia is ready to surpass 1 million infections on Saturday, changing into the eighth nation globally to take action.
As scientists around the globe race to discover a coronavirus inoculation, Colombia says it is able to distribute any vaccine which proves efficient.
Its preparedness is because of many years of labor on a free authorities immunization program which provides 21 vaccines to everybody within the South American nation – among the many area’s most beneficiant for vaccine provision.
“We’ve a very sturdy vaccination program that serves as a mannequin and which can incorporate the brand new components that may arrive in opposition to COVID,” Gerardo Burgos, secretary basic of the well being ministry, advised Reuters.
This system covers not simply Colombia’s personal inhabitants of about 50 million folks but additionally greater than 1.7 million Venezuelan migrants and contains all the things from toddler photographs to human papillomavirus.
The nation distributes about 23 million doses per 12 months.
Colombia has already dedicated $213 million to the worldwide COVAX initiative, guaranteeing COVID-19 vaccinations for about 10 million folks. Individuals over 60, these with pre-existing situations and healthcare staff will probably be immunized first.
Colombia’s instances have climbed steadily regardless of greater than 5 months of a regularly loosened quarantine which has battered the financial system and despatched unemployment hovering.
Its COVID-19 demise toll is ready to high 30,000 folks over the weekend.
Moreover the price of the vaccine itself, the federal government plans to spend as much as 300 billion pesos, about $78 million, on transport, info campaigns, regional warehouse expansions and personnel to inoculate the preliminary 10 million recipients, Burgos stated.
The Bogota warehouse can maintain about 50 million vaccine doses, Burgos stated, and is recurrently at about 50% capability.
However there will probably be challenges – some previous, some new.
Reaching distant populations in Colombia’s mountains and jungles will probably be as troublesome with a COVID vaccine as it’s with different immunizations.
“It is not simple to must navigate rivers after which stroll or must go along with animals, on horseback,” Burgos stated.
Potential vaccines requiring excessive chilly storage might additionally show troublesome, he stated.
“The nice novelty could possibly be within the problem which may be created by vaccines which demand refrigeration beneath -60, -70 levels (Celsius),” Burgos stated.
The nation might mount refrigeration websites in main cities to ensure entry for as many individuals as potential, he stated, and expects producers to share details about transportation.
Some firms creating distinctive chilly storage vaccines have stated they’re working to make injections last more in transit.
Colombia usually packs vaccines into thick coolers with particular ice packs which maintain them at between 2 levels and eight levels Celsius for as much as 36 hours.
Staff have been readying 9,000 doses of rotavirus vaccine, amongst others, to ship to the northeastern province of Cesar when Reuters visited the warehouse.
“We have made nice efforts,” Burgos stated. “As a result of ultimately our duty is for all Colombians.”