The Costa Rican Ministry of Health hopes to acquire the first vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and start with the vaccination campaigns against the novel Coronavirus during the first half of 2021.
This was declared by the Minister Daniel Salas speaking to the legislative deputies of the Tax Affairs Commission, where he was present at a hearing on the institutional budget for 2021.
Salas was questioned by the deputy of the National Liberation Party (PLN), Ana Lucía Delgado, about a transfer of ¢ 1,170 million related to the organization of the National Sports Games; Whereupon the minister indicated that such games could be held in the second half of next year if immunization plans are met.
“In the first semester it is going to be the moment in which we will be acquiring vaccines and vaccinating. Once people are immunized, in the second semester, a much more favorable scenario is envisioned for doing this type of activity.”
“Saying it with all certainty it is going to be difficult, and in the first semester I don’t see it as feasible (holding the Games), but we are going to see the times when we will have access to the vaccine and the real times that we will have with the immunization itself, with the campaigns and the vaccination of the citizens,”said Salas.
The Government of the Republic affirmed, on August 21st, that it is already articulating conversations with the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Sinovac, which are currently conducting clinical trials of vaccines and are in an advanced stage of their development.
He also pointed out that “new contacts are being sought with other governments and developer companies,” with the aim of “analyzing different options for ongoing research” in order to guarantee the fastest possible access to their products.
Along these lines, it was informed on September 11th that Costa Rica would also develop approaches in the coming days with the Modernacompany, with Russian developers and with the Chinese firm Sinopharm.
The World Health Organization (WHO) counts more than 200 active developers of possible vaccines against COVID-19; however, few are in an advanced stage of research.
The executive president of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), RománMacaya, said on August 31st that the country hopes to buy a first package of at least 3 million doses for priority care of the Pandemic , so that health personnel and people with risk factors, such as older adults, can be immunized first, as soon as possible.
However, Macaya recalled that this buying process can be compared to “a horse race”, where everyone bets on different horses but no one knows which one will win.
Vaccination, a key factor
Vaccination against the novel Coronavirus is key for the country, given the health and economic crisis caused by the disease. Costa Rica is currently facing the highest peak of the Pandemic at the health level and is already suffering strong economic impacts, given the commercial and social restrictions imposed to contain the infections.
At the health level, the country already registers more than 58 thousand confirmed cases of the virus and 633 deaths. In addition, it registers a high number of hospitalized patients, particularly in intensive care units (ICUs), where occupancy levels already almost reach 70% of the total beds.
In the economic sphere, the country expects its biggest contraction since the crisis of the 1980s (-5% in its production) and a fall of more than ¢ 1.16 trillion in state revenues, as a result of the strong blow in all sectors of the economy, mainly in tourism, transport and construction activities.
The President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, affirmed that the country is already working on the technical design of extraordinary budgets to have the resources and the necessary authorization to access the vaccine when it is available in the market.
However, the health authorities affirm that the process has beencomplex because the country does not have a clear legal framework on the possibility of acquiring products that do not yet exist.
Along these lines, Dr. Macaya said that some developer companies even work with “set aside” systems in which risk capital is assumed; that is, purchases are made without returns in the event of possible adversities. This type of investment, for example, is not allowed in our country.
“The government is working in a coordinated manner, from the competence of each of the related institutions, to have access to a vaccine in the most expeditious and transparent manner, taking into account all related legal, technical and budgetary aspects,” he said.