Aviso LatAm: COVID-19 March 19, 2021

​​​​​What You Should Know

  • Breaking News: On March 18, the Biden administration announced it will send 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico. AstraZeneca has millions of doses made in a US facility. The plan would mark the first time the United States directly supplies vaccine to another country. 
  • Don’t Miss: As the geopolitics of vaccine access continue to plays out, COVID-19 Vaccine Trackershows which manufacturers and countries are leading in vaccine distribution in the region. 
  • COVID-19 Recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Partnership Strategy for the Biden Administration – the latest Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center publication – outlines specific short and long-term actions that can be taken by the Biden administration to foster prosperity in the region and ensure that the United States is the partner of choice in the pandemic recovery.
  • Brazil’s Fourth Health Minister: President Jair Bolsonaro has named Marcelo Queiroga, a cardiologist, the country’s new health minister. Queiroga is the fourth health minister in Brazil since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Atlantic Council experts available to comment.

Health + Innovation

  • Jamaica: On March 15, Jamaica became the first country in the Caribbean to receive COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility. The delivery of 14,400 doses is part of the first phase of 124,800 doses allocated to the country.
  • Brazil: On March 15, Brazil signed a deal for 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Two days before, Brazil reached a deal for 10 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, with the first 400,000 doses expected to arrive in April. Brazil had previously secured contracts for 100 million doses from AstraZeneca and another 100 million from Sinovac.
  • Vaccine Geopolitics: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanked India and Russia for helping Mexico to access COVID-19 vaccines.
  • AstraZeneca: A number of European countries — including Ireland, Germany, France, and Denmark— have halted use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine over reports of blood clots in some recipients. According to experts and the World Health Organization, there are no links between the vaccines and the blood clots. On March 18, the European Union’s medicines regulator concluded that the vaccine is safe and effective.
  • Honduras: On March 13, Honduras received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility to support ongoing immunization efforts. COVAX will provide the Central American country with 424,000 doses overall.
  • Ecuador: Ecuador received 73,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on March 10. It is the country’s fifth batch received from Pfizer.
  • Paraguay: Amid protests over the Paraguayan government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan announced it is assisting Paraguay — its only ally in South America – to buy COVID-19 vaccines.

Economies in Focus

Multilateral Analysis

  • A new report from the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean  shows that the pandemic has magnified structural gaps in the region and prompted a rise in debt levels that threatens to jeopardize the region’s recovery.
  • The International Monetary Fund warned that many Caribbean countries could become economic long-haulers, due to their heavy reliance on tourism. Across the region, annual hotel stays fell by 70 percent in 2020, and cruises were completely suspended.  

Economic Relief

  • Brazil’s Congress approved an $8 billion emergency aid package to provide cash transfers to the country’s most vulnerable.
  • Chilean President Sebastián Piñera presented a relief package to Congress, including cash loans of $558 and $836 per beneficiary for Chile’s middle class.
  • The IDB approved a loan of $2.8 million and a credit guarantee of $2.1 million for Brazil to invest in projects to reduce COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.

Economic Impact

  • South American airlines are preparing to cut flights as a second wave of infections spreads throughout Brazil and decreases travel demand. LATAM Airlines said that it expects flights in March to fall by 65 percent compared to the previous year. 
  • Brazilian economic activity increased sharply in January, according to the country’s Central Bank, reaching 2015 highs, although it is unclear how the economy will perform in the coming months.

Quarantines + Travel Restrictions

Quarantines + Reopenings

  • On March 18, sections of Santiago, Chile, were placed under a strict quarantine, closing all non-essential businesses. A very limited number of operations, such as construction projects, will be allowed to continue.
  • Paraguay imposed greater restrictions on movement in the capital for two weeks from March 18 and suspended in-person classes in 23 cities. The new curfew will begin at 8:00 p.m. and end at 5:00 a.m.
  • Argentina extended existing COVID-19 restrictions until April 9 to allow the positive effects of the vaccination campaign to materialize. The government also announced the state of emergency would remain in effect until the end of 2021.
  • Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou announced greater COVID-19 restrictions, including the suspension of amateur sports and continued limitations on gatherings, as the country experiences its worst COVID-19 outbreak yet. 
  • The mayor of Santa Marta, Colombia, expanded the daily curfew to 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m..
  • Brazil’s second most populous state, Minas Gerais, enacted the toughest measures yet to control the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 17, only essential services are allowed to operate in all 853 municipalities. In the state of São Paolo, some cities have gone beyond state measures and enacted complete lockdowns.

Border and travel restrictions

  • Belize announced that travelers will no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test if they have been vaccinated. Travelers must have been vaccinated at least two weeks before arrival.
  • Argentina restricted flights from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Europe, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Mexico, and the United States. Argentines returning home must present a negative PCR test and quarantine for 7 days.
  • On March 15, Peru resumed flights longer than 8 hours, although flights from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil remain suspended. 

In Focus: Vaccine Tracker

  • Since the first case of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean was reported in Brazil on February 26, 2020, the region has reported nearly 23 million cases and more than 720,000 COVID-related deaths. Countries have actively worked to secure vaccines through bilateral and multilateral arrangements, including agreements with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Russia’s Sputnik V, and China’s CoronaVac.
  • As of March 15, 2021, twenty Latin American and Caribbean countries have authorized emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • Amid some of the highest infection and death rates in the world, companies from seven countries have delivered vaccines to the region: China, Russia, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden. Through donations of vaccines and medical supplies and loan commitments, China, Russia, and India are quickly becoming the partners of choice in the region’s COVID-19 recovery.
  • Our new interactive maps track: 1) the percentage of the population of each Latin American and Caribbean country covered by current vaccine agreements; 2) the total number of doses secured by each country with a breakdown by supplier/vaccine; 3) where each vaccine is being used; and 4) how many vaccines flow from each major producing country to regional destinations.

By the numbers

  • Cases by country: Brazil (11,609,601) #2 worldwide, Colombia (2,309,600) #11 worldwide, Argentina (2,210,121) #12 worldwide, Mexico (2,169,007) #13 worldwide, Peru (1,427,064) #19 worldwide, Chile (905,212) #23 worldwide, Panama (348,580) #43 worldwide, Ecuador (302,854) #47 worldwide, Bolivia (260,988) #51 worldwide, Dominican Republic (247,673) #53 worldwide, Costa Rica (210,447) #62 worldwide Source: worldometers.info
  • Prevalence rate (total cases per million people: Panama (79,904) #11 worldwide, Aruba (79,207) #12 worldwide, Brazil (54,346) #40 worldwide, Argentina (48,587) #48 worldwide, Chile (47,068) #50 worldwide, Colombia (45,052) #54 worldwide, Peru (43,861) #56 worldwide, Costa Rica (41,047) #60 worldwide, Saint Martin (40,942) #61 worldwide, Curacao (31,829) #71 worldwide, Source: worldometers.info
  • Deaths per capita (deaths per million people): Mexico (1,502) #17 worldwide, Peru (1,482) #16 worldwide, Panama (1,377) #23 worldwide, Brazil (1,322) #24 worldwide, Colombia (1,197) #28 worldwide, Argentina (1,188) #29 worldwide, Chile (1,134) #32 worldwide, Bolivia (1,018) #36 worldwide, Ecuador (912) #42 worldwide, Belize (785) #47 worldwide, Source: worldometers.info

Quick take