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Summary 2021: Hope in Ecuador put in the vaccination against COVID-19 for the economic rebirth

On January 21, immunization begins in the country for frontline personnel and older adults in public nursing homes. It was the beginning of a new journey.

21 | January

Doctors from Quito and Guayaquil who care for patients with the virus are among the first vaccinated against COVID-19 in Ecuador, once 8,000 doses of Pfizer arrived, of the 86,000 offered by the Ecuadorian Government until March, in phase 0 of the Lenín Moreno’s plan.

A few hours later, complaints were raised because two officials from the Carlos Andrade Marín hospital, of the IESS, were vaccinated without being first-line doctors.

That first weekend, in addition, a brigade goes to inoculate an exclusive residence to the mother and relatives of the Minister of Health, Juan Carlos Zevallos. The doses were from a public hospital.

After the scandal, health unions, the Ombudsman’s Office and the National Assembly ask for his departure. Prosecutor opens investigation for alleged influence peddling. And later, the Comptroller’s Office determines that 67 people who did not meet the requirements in phase 0 were vaccinated during his administration.

Zevallos resigns on February 26 (11 months in office) after another scandal: a leaked list of those who got vaccinated first.

Rodolfo Farfán assumes, on March 1, but leaves that 19 after new lists of privileged. Mauro Falconí is appointed as minister. A week later, Moreno affirms that Zevallos did not have a structured vaccination plan, “which was only in the head of the minister.”

He asks Falconí to resign after 19 days due to the disorder in the vaccination of older adults. Camilo Salinas is the fifth Minister of Health in this pandemic.

Moreno left without vaccinating the two million Ecuadorians he offered; it reached more than 1.72 million.

On May 24, Guillermo Lasso takes office as president and offers to vaccinate 9 million people in his first 100 days. It adopts part of a proposal of professionals to inoculate faster, using the electoral roll and opening more vaccination points, such as schools. Children from 5 years old enter the process.

At 100 days, Minister Ximena Garzón says that 8.4 million people in Ecuador, out of 17.7 million, are vaccinated; and 1.8 million with the first dose.

As of December 14, 75% of the population had been inoculated with the initial full schedule: two doses, according to MSP. And only 4.5% had the third dose or booster on. Authorities plan to vaccinate 85% before the end of 2021.

Washington Alemán, an expert doctor in Infectious Diseases and who treated the zero COVID-19 patient in Ecuador, says that a good role has been done in vaccination, but since “we are not an island” these mutations arrive from abroad. For him, inequity in access to vaccines is the biggest global problem facing this pandemic.

In Ecuador, he adds, there is a need to work more on citizen co-responsibility and communication strategies, so that more people have access to inoculation and maintain biosafety measures.

Francisco Jarrín, president of the Guayaquil Chamber of Industries, says that the vaccination process implemented in the current government has allowed the productive and economic reactivation of some sectors. Others, such as construction, transportation, accommodation, telecommunications … are recovering slowly.

He argues that the productive sector has been a strategic ally for the public sector in this plan, since they supported on issues such as logistics management, distribution of supplies, helped with facilities to inoculate and more.


Another pandemic: chronic child malnutrition

Ecuador is second (with more than 27%) in chronic child malnutrition in children under 5 years of age in Latin America, behind Guatemala, according to ECLAC.

It is a serious public health problem that affects one in four children and is reflected in short stature. Tungurahua, Chimborazo, Santa Elena, Cotopaxi, Bolívar and Pastaza, the ones with the highest prevalence of cases.

On November 30, President Guillermo Lasso presents the Childhood with a Future project, to reduce the indicator by 6%.

28 | April

Children at risk due to lack of vaccines such as pentavalent, BCG and others of the basic and regular schedule

“There is no pentavalent.” “There is no rotavirus.” “There is no BCG,” they told parents who were seeking to immunize their babies, with the regular scheme, in health centers.

In January and February there was a similar shortage that dragged on from 2020. In March it was learned that the outgoing government of Lenín Moreno did not manage the biologicals in a timely manner.

On October 4, Guillermo Lasso launched a national campaign and more funds were allocated for vaccines: $ 17 million.

01 | December

MSP and IESS hospitals, without medicines

Patients with rare, catastrophic diseases, cancer, among others, complain again for lack of medicines and supplies (such as suture thread, serums, syringes) in hospitals of the public network and in those of the IESS, as they say that in some cases They have been waiting for them for more than six months.

Authorities of both networks (IESS and MSP) announced that they would make a joint purchase of around 200 medicines (about $ 50 million would go) to solve the problem until before the end of 2021. (I)

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