Chile’s step-based mitigation strategySince the beginning of the pandemic, the Chilean government implemented a series of measures aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, starting with a ban on mass public events, the closure of borders, and a national curfew. Although no national lockdown was implemented, a series of local quarantines and lockdowns have been taking place throughout the outbreak. In July 2020, a national scheme known as “Paso a paso nos cuidamos” was rolled out. The plan, which is still in place, consists of five different phases referred to as “steps” and classifies each neighborhood depending on the severity of its local outbreak, based on cases. The “step” in which each area is currently classified defines how restrictive the local measures are at a certain point in time.
These contingency norms have greatly impacted Chile’s economy. While the effect of the pandemic can be well observed in standard metrics such as changes in the country’s GDP, and employment figures, it is within households that its repercussions are encountered daily. This has resulted in numerous social issues and left the most affected families struggling to cover basic needs.
An outstanding vaccination campaignIf there is one area where Chile has stood out during this pandemic, it is the speed of its vaccination campaign. Along with Israel and the UK, the South American country was one of the fastest in carrying out a national immunization program against COVID-19. As of February, 2023, nine in ten people had been fully vaccinated against the disease, some had already received booster shots, and a fourth vaccine started to be offered to citizens aged 12 and older. The success of the country’s campaign can be attributed to a variety of factors. Among them are the coordination between relevant sectors, early-on-signed contracts with Sinovac Biotech assuring the supply of enough vaccine doses, a long tradition of vaccination programs, and the willingness of the population to get immunized. However, the process has not been without its hurdles. As a second wave of cases surged in March, 2021, locals started questioning Chile’s main vaccine choice, pointing out its level of efficacy. Nonetheless, the rise in cases was attributed to an early lifting of mitigation and protective measures. Moreover, authorities argue that the vaccine has proven to decrease the chance of severe infection. With a large proportion of adult citizens fully vaccinated, and the youngest population also taking part on the campaign, the country’s future immunization efforts are focused on booster shots, and the use of additional types of COVID-19 vaccines.
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