The first case of COVID-19 in Chile was reported at the beginning of March 2020. The outbreak hit the country during a decisive political period, and close to a plebiscite which resulted from a series of riots starting in October 2019. The referendum, originally set to take place on April 26, 2020, had to be postponed due to the spread of the disease. With an overwhelming majority, the electorate finally voted in favor of drafting a new constitution on October 25 of the same year. A year later and still during the pandemic, general elections were held in Chile on November 21, 2021. Gabriel Boric, from the country’s Social Convergence party, won what was described as a polarized election. By January 23, 2022, the South American country had recorded close to two million cases and over 39 thousand deaths, most of them in the Metropolitan Area of Santiago, Chile’s most affected region. With the spread of the Omicron variant during the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, a rise in cases has been observed in the Latin American country despite a high vaccination rate.
Chile’s step-based mitigation strategy
Since 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 campaign
If 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 January, 2022, nine in ten people had been at least partially vaccinated against the disease, six in ten had already received booster shots, and a fourth vaccine started to be offered to immunocompromised citizens. 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 has been 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 recently 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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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 25 most important statistics relating to "Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Chile".