Pandemic: 86 per cent of vaccines used in Latin America are Asian
by Silvina Premat

The most widely used is Sinovac, made in China. Brazilian doctors have questioned its effectiveness. Another Chinese company, Sinopharm, and Russia’s Sputnik follow. The region’s richest countries – Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina – are getting the lion share of the vaccines. Poorer countries have to rely on COVAX sharing programme.


Buenos Aires (AsiaNews) – In Latin America, 86 per cent of all vaccines used come from Asia.  Although US and European vaccines are available, Russian and Chinese vaccines have the lion share. However, the region lags behind in vaccination compared to other regions.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data, 12,677,055 doses were delivered to Latin American and Caribbean countries as of last Friday.

Some 5,952,000 and 1,904,000 come from China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm respectively. Another 3,094,740 are from Russia’s Sputnik, 975,445 from US/German Pfizer-BioNTech, and 750,870 from British AstraZeneca.

Delays in delivery are due to difficult negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and governments that own the vaccines, and buyers, i.e. the region’s governments.

In addition, distribution is unequal; about 80 per cent of the doses have gone to the most developed Latin American countries, namely Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina.

Chile leads the way in terms of vaccinations with four and a half million people or 20 per cent of the total population vaccinated. A Chinese vaccine was used in 94 per cent of cases.

The Chilean government of President Sebastián Piñera secured priority by participating in the research process. Sinovac will deliver some 10 million doses to the Chilean capital of Santiago by the end of March.

The Latin American country with the highest number of deaths (about 266,000) is Brazil where several vaccines are manufactured, including Sinovac’s, the most used.

Some ten million doses of the Chinese vaccine have already been administered and the government plans to buy about 30 million more.

It should be noted that Brazilian scientists have questioned the vaccine’s effectiveness last January.

Argentina and Mexico inked agreements with Russia for 24 million and 25 million doses of Sputnik V respectively, although delivery dates have not been made public.

Both countries were negatively impacted by slow and limited shipments from Russia and India, where Sputnik V is also manufactured.

Political commitments and the pandemic’s progress led Argentina to boost the purchase of Chinese vaccines. Some 900,000 doses have already been delivered. Mexico is doing the same thing.

The region’s poorest countries – Colombia, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua – are lagging behind. The first, modest shipment of vaccines via the WHO’s COVAX programme have begun to arrive.

The UN agency plans to deliver two billion doses to developing countries by the end of 2021.

What is becoming clear is that vaccine distribution is uneven across Latin America and the Caribbean, the result of the economic recession, the worse in 12 years, triggered by the pandemic.

According to data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), 654 million people, or 33.7 per cent of the region’s population, is poor with 78 million Latin Americans living in extreme poverty.