Aviso LatAm: COVID-19 August 20, 2021

​​​​​What you should know

  • Haiti: The recent earthquake has further derailed COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, which have stalled 35 days since the first mass immunization session on July 16.
  • Oxygen: Efforts are underway to restart Cuba’s main oxygen factory after it broke down on August 15 amid a Delta variant-driven surge of COVID-19-related cases and deaths.
  • Over 12 million: Number of vaccines the United States will have sent to Mexico following the recent announcement of an additional 8.5 million vaccine donation. Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and Argentina are the top regional recipients of US vaccines.
  • 7.2 percent: The share of people in Mexico who said they did not want the vaccine –an over 4 percent increase from early July. 
  • Ecuador: The Ministry of Health announced that a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be administered. Unlike the United States announcement, the third dose will only be administered to people with weak immune systems.

By the numbers

  • Vaccinations per capita (vaccines administered per 100 people): Uruguay (146) #5 worldwide, Chile (141) #7 worldwide, Cuba (103) #37 worldwide, Dominican Republic (99) #40 worldwide, Ecuador (85) #51 worldwide, Panama (83) #53 worldwide, Argentina (82) #54 worldwide, El Salvador (81) #55 worldwide, Brazil (80) #58 worldwide, Costa Rica (72) #63 worldwide, Barbados (65) #65 worldwide, Source: nytimes.com

Health + Innovation

  • Donations: On August 12, the United States announced 5.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to CARICOM countries.
  • Sanofi: The French pharmaceutical company has begun a clinical trial of a new experimental mRNA vaccine fighting COVID-19 in Honduras and the US.
  • Paraguay: PAHO, the UN, and the National Directorate for the Health of Indigenous People launched a communication campaign to encourage vaccination in indigenous communities.
  • Brazil: In the past week, nearly 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered per day, double the 750,000 daily doses in the United States.
  • Fake masks: Eight people were arrested in Buenos Aires for producing and selling knock-off face masks. While reports of fake masks have popped up in the region before, this appears to be one of the first instances of masks being produced by a criminal gang.
  • 40,000 cases: The number of current active cases of COVID-19 in Guatemala, a record-breaking number from previous peak of 26,000 in July 2020.
  • 1 in 5: Ecuador reached its ambitious target of vaccinating 9 million people with at least one vaccine dose before September 1. Nearly 1 in 5 people are fully immunized.  
  • $30 million: The IDB approved a $30 million project to help fully finance Panama’s contracts with the COVAX Facility and AstraZeneca. 
  • Sputnik Light: Russia’s new, single-dose vaccine against COVID-19 has shown 93.5 percent efficacy in Paraguay.
  • Medigen: The Taiwanese pharmaceutical company applied for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in Paraguay, where it is conducting Phase 3 clinical trials. Paraguay is Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America.

Economies in focus

Economic impact

  • Mexico’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for a second consecutive time to rein in inflation as post-pandemic economic recovery continues.
  • Brazil’s real slumped 1.6 percent, hitting a three month low amid concerns over fiscal and political risks.

Economic recovery

  • M&A acyivities in the region are on the rise with 377 transactions in the first half of 2021 totaling $66.6 billion, indicating a 45 percent rise in volume and a 463 percent increase in value compared to all of 2020.
  • Peru’s Ministry of Economy published a notice restoring public spending and debt ceilings after lifting them during the pandemic. Starting in 2022, Peru’s deficit will not exceed 3.7 percent of GDP, while its public debt should not be higher than 38 percent of GDP.
  • Following a 1 percent increase in Chile’s economic growth from April to June 2021 compared to Q1, Capital Economics economists raised Chile’s 2021 GDP forecast to 10 percent from 9 percent previously.

Social transformations: Expanding the digital wallet

  • Counting on a wider adoption of QR codes and an imminent deal with a top payment-processing network, Millicom International Cellular SA plans an aggressive expansion of its Tigo Money digital wallet across Latin America.
  • Tigo Money, currently operating in El Salvador, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Honduras, plans to make QR code payments available to more customers with expansions into Nicaragua and Panama planned for 2022. The company will drive its financial services growth from its new hub in Panama, where it just announced a $250 million investment.
  • In markets where over 70 percent of people do not have access to real financial systems, expanding the digital wallet has the potential to boost financial inclusion and drive economic development across the region.