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Chile, an example of what needs to be done during a pandemic

The first decision was to purchase many respirators according to their pandemic projections and the contagion of the population taking Asia as a COVID-19 backdrop. And the second was to establish early contracts with the pharmaceutical companies which were researching the vaccines, despite not having any approvals. Their bid was that they would have the capability to respond, i.e. they were confident in terms of establishing these contracts.

From this, they got more reasonable coverage of what it means to live contaminated by COVID-19, and at the same time have a close reference point of how the distribution of the vaccine would be and avoid the shortage presented by Pfizer, Sinovac, or AstraZeneca. The primary healthcare system –which has ample and recognized international experience in vaccination processes against influenza– had the possibility to provide a schedule fit for the logistical capabilities and distribution they already had and were then improved in the face of the need for universal vaccination.

These elements are what has allowed Chile have a successful vaccination process, where the people have complied and the position of the authorities has been good: people are getting vaccinated where they’re supposed to, there was no alternative lists or privileges, but they established priorities according to the personnel which was nearest and susceptible to being infected by COVID-19.

Thanks to these actions, Chile is in a good position to obtain herd immunity, probably by June or July, in other words, vaccinating close to 80% of the population.

The vaccination campaign started on Christmas of 2020 and by March they had vaccinated almost 20% of the inhabitants.

Read more: Universalize social security, the challenge for Latin America

The investment

For the pandemic, the government of Chile readjusted budget allotments, without the need for congressional approval. They established a fund of the resources of Chilean sovereign funds to place them during the “state of constitutional exception”. Therefore, contracts with pharmaceutical companies were now more reasonable and they are still in conversations to manage this appropriately. It should be noticed that said contracts were made directly with the pharmaceutical companies without intermediaries, as the government tried to avoid them at all costs to evade a focus on corruption.

There was good planning of resources and additionally, the government got an early credit-like loan for the US $12,000M destined to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic in sanitarian, economic, and social terms.

This is what the government has tried to maintain the level of the debt reasonable, considering that Chile was the least indebted country in Latin America, and caring for its public finances has provided them good results for adequate debt control and unemployment, and also producing better expectations for its inhabitants.

Listen: “Chile has been a laboratory for neoliberalism” (In Spanish)

Contrary to other countries of the region, Chile carried out direct negotiations and also subscribed to the COVAX initiative. What it did was to take all the options as all the laboratories did not have vaccination commitments and not having distribution according to the agreed.

Chile has its first doses secured and most of the second, which is being completed now with the pharmaceutical laboratories1.

The country contracted more than 20 million vaccines, helping other countries such as Ecuador, Uruguay, and Paraguay, creating cooperation with other Latin American countries.

2020 in Chile

Last year the Chilean economy was weakened with only a 1% growth, the foreign debt grew, the GDP fell 6 points and the informal economy grew close to 30%.

Latin America, including Chile, faced a complex lack of data. This, from the standpoint, that if you want to lend money to those in need, you need updated information and government legislation. This was a very complex situation that has been improving with time.

In terms of poverty, it increased close to 8% before the pandemic and raised 15 and 27%, and this is where the support of the government has been focused to overcome this gap, with direct help and a lot of support for entrepreneurship, which opens space for creating new employment positions despite the restrictions all the countries had with the quarantines and commerce lockdowns.

This is a situation that we can completely overcome if we reach herd immunity, as it is there that we can increase exports, the workforce and recover employment, which is directly related to exports.

Economic reactivation

In this context, reactivation has had its ups and downs, the incentives from the government have been maintained and credit has allowed reactivating new businesses. However, total reactivation has not been achieved yet, as it is awaiting herd immunity to secure better possibilities, and as soon as other countries achieve it, formal trade and tourism may reactivate, which finally will be a relief for every country.

Chile is enjoying having orderly public accounts, avoid corruption where there are intermediaries, acted proactively to access all vaccine and social support, provided direct help to those in need, authorized non-payment of debts, not interrupting basic supplies, in other words, having regulation in place to support a particular sector of the population to cope with all the economic restrictions and negative impacts of the pandemic.

Although internally we strongly criticize the government, beyond having the arguments and being reasonable, what we see in Chile is a pretty organized country that has learned to manage the pandemic correctly.





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