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Chile weighing issue of third booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Tue 22nd June, 2021 8:25pm
By Fabian Cambero
    SANTIAGO, June 22 (Reuters) - Chile is studying the
possibility of issuing a third, booster dose of COVID-19
vaccines, its president said on Tuesday, as the country seeks to
beat back the latest wave of infections amid questions about how
effective the widely used Sinovac  SVA.O  vaccine is against
more transmissible virus variants.
    President Sebastian Pinera said health experts were
examining "many scientific studies" to determine if a third dose
would be necessary as he launched the rollout of vaccines among
teenagers in Chile. 
    "As a government we are attentive to today's problems but
also must anticipate and prepare to face the problems of
tomorrow," he added.
    Chile has relied heavily on the COVID-19 shot developed by
China's Sinovac to roll out one of the world's fastest
vaccination campaigns, administering 16.8 million doses, along
with 3.9 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine  PFE.N 
 BNTX.O  and smaller amounts of inoculations from Cansino
Biologics  6185.HK  and AstraZeneca  AZN.L . 
    So far, 78% of Chile's target population has received at
least one dose, and 61% are fully vaccinated. 
    Chile was an important early real-world test for the
effectiveness of Sinovac's shot. In a study published in April,
the Chinese vaccine proved minimally effective at preventing
illness after one dose. With a second jab, it was 67% effective
in preventing symptomatic infection, 85% effective in preventing
hospitalizations and 80% in preventing deaths. 
    Public health chief Paula Daza told Chile's TVN news station
that investigators were now examining how long Sinovac
protection lasted, and would report back next month. 
    "We think that data will show that people who were
vaccinated in February and had their second dose in March will
likely need a third dose by September," she said.
    With Chile predominantly relying on Sinovac, health
officials are also facing questions about its ability to
withstand some of the more contagious variants. 
    Earlier this week, more than 350 health workers who had been
vaccinated with Sinovac's vaccine in an area of Indonesia
hard-hit by the Delta variant fell ill with COVID-19. 
    No cases of the Delta variant, first identified in India,
have been detected in Chile so far, though they have been in
neighboring Peru and Argentina.    

 (Reporting by Fabian Cambero, Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing
by Bill Berkrot)
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