Covid-19: Second doses run dry in Brazil's scramble to vaccinate

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Nurse-in-training Julia Ramos prepares to vaccinate a person at a Covid-19 vaccination clinic at Museu da Republica in Rio de Janeiro

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Vinicius Alexis da Cruz felt a wave of relief when his turn came to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

As the virus ravaged Brazil, the 32-year-old had spent more than a year risking his life, working as an Uber driver. Diabetes and high blood pressure made Mr Cruz especially vulnerable. But he kept driving passengers across São Paulo to make ends meet.

“I was really scared of getting sick,” said the father of one, who lost his job as a sports commentator before the pandemic hit. “But I was taking the risk because I had to keep working.”

Mr Cruz got his first dose of CoronaVac in late May. But when the time came to get his second jab, he was turned away. “Nobody had a vaccine for me,” he said. “I went to five clinics near my house. I couldn’t find it anywhere. The same thing happened the next day, and the day after that.”

He scoured the city for four days before he got his hands on a second shot. “Finally, I’m fully vaccinated. But it became really clear to me just how short we are on vaccines.”

Like Mr Cruz, millions are struggling to get their second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, dealing a blow to Brazil’s already troubled vaccination campaign. Some 3.1 million Brazilians had not had their second jab as of 4 July despite being eligible for it, according to researchers tracking vaccinations.

Vinicius Alexis da Cruz being vaccinated

Some have intentionally skipped their second dose, falling for misinformation campaigns that have sowed doubts about the vaccine or claimed a single shot offers enough protection. But the main hurdle has been a supply crunch of doses driven by a rushed vaccine rollout, said Dr Ligia Bahia, a public health specialist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

“There is this drive to speed up vaccination with the first dose,” said Dr Bahia, one of the researchers tracking immunisations. “And the second dose has ended up on the backburner.”

Coronavirus has claimed more than 530,000 lives in Brazil, a toll second only to the United States. Yet only about 40% of Brazilians have received at least one dose of the vaccine and just 15% are fully immunised.


Global vaccine rollout


Scroll table

World
44.1

3,439,775,179
China
95.8

1,387,280,157
India
27.3

377,352,501
US
99.9

334,151,648
Brazil
53.8

114,456,183
Germany
97.8

81,939,305
UK
120.7

80,646,232
Japan
47.6

60,257,292
France
87.5

59,124,911
Turkey
69.0

58,155,459
Italy
95.3

57,616,037
Indonesia
18.7

51,278,367
Mexico
39.3

50,698,518
Russia
32.6

47,572,228
Spain
99.7

46,612,489
Canada
112.6

42,509,643
Poland
83.3

31,535,478
Argentina
54.5

24,616,918
Chile
125.8

24,053,548
Colombia
41.5

21,124,781
South Korea
39.7

20,330,660
Pakistan
9.0

19,883,900
Saudi Arabia
56.9

19,825,792
Morocco
53.0

19,579,875
Netherlands
100.3

17,191,580
United Arab Emirates
161.1

15,934,124
Philippines
12.0

13,122,277
Thailand
18.0

12,569,213
Belgium
102.1

11,837,865
Malaysia
35.1

11,366,710
Israel
126.2

10,923,521
Hungary
105.1

10,155,466
Bangladesh
6.1

10,107,557
Portugal
94.7

9,660,794
Greece
88.6

9,233,521
Australia
35.7

9,097,969
Romania
47.3

9,092,141
Sweden
90.0

9,086,607
Czech Republic
83.7

8,966,562
Peru
27.1

8,930,921
Dominican Republic
81.4

8,833,615
Cambodia
52.0

8,700,167
Austria
95.6

8,607,754
Switzerland
91.7

7,932,912
Cuba
64.2

7,275,137
Kazakhstan
35.9

6,742,275
Singapore
105.3

6,163,124
Denmark
102.6

5,942,561
Iran
6.8

5,717,914
Ecuador
31.8

5,619,115
Sri Lanka
24.8

5,319,423
Serbia
78.2

5,318,975
Finland
87.1

4,827,970
Ireland
95.3

4,707,181
Norway
85.2

4,617,380
Egypt
4.5

4,560,082
Jordan
42.3

4,312,212
Uruguay
123.0

4,274,165
South Africa
7.1

4,236,718
Azerbaijan
40.5

4,107,950
Vietnam
4.2

4,040,783
Slovakia
71.8

3,919,426
Mongolia
119.0

3,899,770
Nigeria
1.9

3,832,459
Nepal
12.5

3,653,173
Taiwan
15.0

3,565,840
Uzbekistan
10.6

3,541,442
Myanmar
6.4

3,500,000
Ukraine
8.0

3,489,332
Qatar
117.9

3,396,963
El Salvador
49.5

3,212,880
Croatia
68.6

2,814,234
Bolivia
22.7

2,647,544
Costa Rica
49.5

2,521,795
Venezuela
8.8

2,508,201
Algeria
5.7

2,500,000
Lithuania
88.6

2,411,631
Kuwait
55.6

2,375,455
Bahrain
128.9

2,193,232
Tunisia
18.1

2,138,025
Ethiopia
1.8

2,058,122
Bulgaria
26.7

1,852,583
Panama
40.2

1,736,269
Slovenia
76.4

1,587,535
Laos
21.3

1,552,182
Lebanon
22.6

1,541,843
Kenya
2.9

1,539,087
Angola
4.6

1,513,460
Zimbabwe
10.0

1,491,397
Oman
29.0

1,480,949
New Zealand
26.4

1,270,719
Ghana
4.1

1,261,677
Latvia
65.6

1,238,086
Iraq
2.7

1,087,866
Belarus
11.3

1,068,413
Uganda
2.3

1,058,094
Guatemala
5.7

1,028,399
Estonia
77.2

1,023,643
Albania
35.5

1,022,802
Honduras
9.9

980,363
Afghanistan
2.4

934,463
Palestinian Territories
18.1

921,595
Cyprus
99.9

887,110
Ivory Coast
3.2

850,857
Moldova
19.7

793,281
Paraguay
10.9

781,010
Senegal
4.5

751,129
Guinea
5.6

734,918
Mauritius
55.6

706,948
Malta
159.9

705,852
Sudan
1.5

677,957
North Macedonia
31.8

662,372
Rwanda
5.0

646,909
Luxembourg
96.5

604,188
Maldives
99.7

539,092
Mozambique
1.6

508,184
Bhutan
63.0

486,126
Bosnia and Herzegovina
14.3

470,218
Iceland
132.4

451,936
Malawi
2.2

428,407
Niger
1.7

423,335
Libya
5.7

393,688
Fiji
42.3

379,199
Trinidad and Tobago
26.2

366,114
Guyana
45.0

354,014
Togo
4.2

347,246
Tajikistan
3.4

322,907
Montenegro
48.1

302,321
Georgia
7.3

289,399
Jamaica
9.7

288,320
Equatorial Guinea
19.7

277,042
Yemen
0.9

268,753
Botswana
11.4

267,763
Timor-Leste
18.5

244,497
Kosovo
12.6

243,428
Somalia
1.5

235,882
Armenia
7.7

227,172
Sierra Leone
2.8

225,380
Suriname
35.7

209,491
Madagascar
0.7

197,001
Mali
0.9

190,301
Zambia
1.0

181,219
Mauritania
3.8

174,628
Kyrgyzstan
2.7

173,700
Barbados
58.7

168,711
Nicaragua
2.5

167,500
Namibia
6.3

159,585
Seychelles
142.0

139,625
Belize
35.1

139,525
Jersey
125.2

126,554
Congo
2.1

116,110
Isle of Man
134.3

114,190
Cameroon
0.4

110,324
Brunei
24.8

108,457
Syria
0.6

108,276
Cape Verde
17.9

99,686
Bahamas
24.4

95,992
Cayman Islands
143.5

94,277
Liberia
1.8

92,041
Comoros
10.5

90,880
Guernsey
128.2

85,940
Bermuda
131.4

81,845
Central African Republic
1.6

78,685
Gibraltar
231.9

78,125
Andorra
88.4

68,329
DR Congo
0.073

65,567
Antigua and Barbuda
66.5

65,077
Gabon
2.9

64,161
Samoa
31.3

62,161
Faroe Islands
116.3

56,825
Lesotho
2.6

56,322
Saint Lucia
29.2

53,699
Eswatini
4.4

51,451
Papua New Guinea
0.6

51,170
South Sudan
0.4

48,461
Greenland
84.5

47,971
Benin
0.4

46,108
Turks and Caicos Islands
117.1

45,342
San Marino
131.6

44,659
Gambia
1.8

42,975
Turkmenistan
0.7

41,993
Saint Kitts and Nevis
78.9

41,956
Dominica
55.6

40,004
Monaco
99.0

38,849
Liechtenstein
91.9

35,050
Grenada
30.5

34,331
Sao Tome and Principe
15.5

33,996
Tonga
27.1

28,667
Djibouti
2.7

26,796
Burkina Faso
0.1

25,833
St Vincent and the Grenadines
23.0

25,509
Guinea-Bissau
1.2

23,318
British Virgin Islands
73.6

22,247
Solomon Islands
3.2

21,742
Chad
0.1

20,478
Cook Islands
107.8

18,942
Anguilla
109.7

16,460
Vanuatu
3.4

10,480
Nauru
86.0

9,313
Saint Helena
130.0

7,892
Tuvalu
40.5

4,772
Falkland Islands
126.5

4,407
Montserrat
53.0

2,651
Niue
75.2

1,216
Pitcairn
100.0

47
British Indian Ocean Territory
0

0
Burundi
0

0
Eritrea
0

0
Haiti
0

0
Kiribati
0

0
North Korea
0

0
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
0

0
Tanzania
0

0
Tokelau
0

0
Vatican
0

0

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Unlike some other countries, Brazil chose not to hold back supplies for second doses. Its vaccination campaign has mostly relied on CoronaVac shots, made locally using inputs from China’s Sinovac. But shipments of Chinese materials have lagged, just as millions are due for their second jab.

And other vaccines have been slow to trickle into Brazil, after President Jair Bolsonaro snubbed early vaccine offers from Pfizer, opting to promote ineffective treatments instead, such as hydroxychloroquine.

He is one of the few leaders in the world who has not yet been vaccinated. And now his government is also under investigation for plans to buy millions of Covaxin shots at wildly inflated prices.

Simone Spadari Da Costa Moura

In early July, Simone Spadari Da Costa Moura arrived at a clinic in São Paulo, ready for her second jab. But she, like many others, was turned away as CoronaVac doses ran out.

She blames policymakers, who she says are locked in a political tug of war that is hurting Brazil’s vaccination efforts.

“They want to show they’re speeding things up – but they are not thinking about the second dose,” said Ms Moura, a former schoolteacher. “It’s a political war. And we’re in the middle of it. For us, we just want to be vaccinated and not get Covid.”

While a longer interval between doses appears to boost the efficacy of vaccines like Pfizer and AstraZeneca, research into the impact of delaying a second CoronaVac shot is still lacking. Some experts fear a longer wait could even hinder the effects of the Chinese vaccine, which already may be less effective at preventing serious cases of Covid-19.

It was these unknowns that worried Aline Nogueira Mariano, when she was told there was no second dose for her. At high-risk due to pre-existing illness, Ms Mariano, 32, took the first dose in late May but struggled to find a second CoronaVac shot.

“I spent days calling every clinic, searching for the vaccine,” said Ms Mariano, who owns an online jewellery store. “It was really distressing, I was so worried. My fear was that I would miss the window to take the second dose and get fully immunised.”

Aline Nogueira Mariano shows her vaccination card

But perhaps the biggest risk is that, with full vaccination delayed, the virus will continue posing a threat to Brazilians, said Dr Gerson Salvador, an infectious disease specialist at the University Hospital of São Paulo.

“There needs to be an easy way for people to get vaccinated,” Dr Salvador said. “Without it, some will inevitably give up on getting the second dose. And, unless a large majority of people are fully vaccinated, we will continue to be a long way off from controlling the pandemic.”

This is especially worrying as new strains gain traction in Brazil, where authorities have long ago scrapped even loose sanitary measures and many unvaccinated Brazilians are foregoing basic precautions like social distancing and mask wearing. Some variants have proven more dangerous to healthy young adults, posing a threat to Brazilians still waiting for their jab.

After a week-long search, Ms Moura finally got her second dose early this week, as a clinic near her home received a fresh batch of vaccines. She says it brought her relief – and fresh hope for the future.

“You feel that you are more protected, that you’re safer,” she said. “It’s this feeling… that things are getting better.”

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Source Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-57819263

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