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Costa Rica to authorize Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in ‘the coming hours’

December 15, 2020

Costa Rica suffered 61 coronavirus-related deaths since Friday for a total of 1,956, according to official data released Tuesday afternoon by the Health Ministry.

Six-hundred and ten people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. The 243 patients in the ICU represent 68% of Costa Rica’s total capacity.

The Health Ministry has confirmed 154,096 total cases, including 1,149 on Saturday, 524 on Sunday, 549 on Monday and 927 on Tuesday. At least 121,031 people have been cleared as recovered, though this number lags behind the actual figure.

The data indicate Costa Rica has 38.4 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people. COVID-19 will be Costa Rica’s leading cause of death in 2020.

Vaccine authorized today

Costa Rica will authorize the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine today, President Carlos Alvarado announced. The Central American country will homologate the emergency use authorization granted by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States.

The country will prioritize vaccinating high-risk populations and certain essential workers, including healthcare staff. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Costa Rica will receive 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — enough for 1.5 million people — by the end of 2021. A national vaccination campaign will begin in the first quarter of 2021.

In Costa Rica, vaccinating children is “an obligation” for parents, according to the Child Welfare Office (PANI). While there is no similar legal requirement for adults, the Health Ministry has emphasized the shared responsibility between Costa Ricans to reduce the spread of the virus.

Costa Rica’s outbreak in context

Costa Rica has the 52nd-most new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to data compiled by The New York Times. At 19.3 new cases per 100,000 people, this significantly trails the United States (63.2) but is higher than Canada (17.7).

New case totals correlate with testing capacity; Costa Rica’s high test-positivity rate suggests it’s catching fewer minor or asymptomatic cases.

About 1.2% of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in Costa Rica have died. The average age of Costa Rica’s coronavirus-related deaths is 70 years.

COVID-19 will be Costa Rica’s leading cause of death in 2020, surpassing acute myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), which killed 1,322 people last year.

An analysis more than 200 COVID-19-related deaths in Costa Rica, released in October, confirmed 90% of them were caused by the virus or an associated complication, while 9% had died of unrelated causes. This case-by-case analysis is ongoing.

Costa Rica has up to 359 intensive-care beds and 986 beds for less-complex coronavirus hospitalizations.

The below graphic will update automatically as the Health Ministry releases new coronavirus data. Remember, coronavirus updates now happen twice a week, but this graph updates daily:

If you believe you have COVID-19, contact Costa Rica’s hotline at 1322. English-speaking staff and mental health professionals are available. Visit the Costa Rican Presidency for the official list of coronavirus measures and alerts. 

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