Panama authorized “emergency” use of the CoronaVac vaccine, from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, to combat Covid-19, the government announced Friday, a few days after it also authorized the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
“The National Directorate of Pharmacies and Drugs of the Ministry of Health approved [Friday] morning the emergency use of the CoronaVac product,” the director of the institution, Elvia Lao, said in a statement.
“It is one more opportunity for Panamanians to have another vaccine here in the country so that more people can be immunized and achieve herd immunity at some point.”
The official did not specify how many doses of this vaccine would reach the country.
“Let’s wait to see what the government negotiates and what the pharmaceutical company can give. The demand exceeds the supply that there is for the world,” Lao said.
The announcement comes nine days after the Panamanian authorities authorized, also for emergency use, the Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 from the Russian laboratory Gamaleya.
“You have to have as many vaccines as possible authorized in the country,” Lao said.
So far, Panama, with 4.2 million inhabitants, has agreements for 7.2 million doses of vaccines against Covid-19, according to the government’s scientific advisor and spokesperson for the vaccine team, Eduardo Ortega-Barría.
Of that amount, 5 million are from Pfizer/BioNtech, 1.1 million from AstraZeneca and another 1.1 million from the Covax mechanism of the World Health Organization.
Since January 20, Panama has applied more than 457,000 doses to health personnel, members of the State security forces and people over 60 years of age, among others.
Panama is the Central American country with the most coronavirus infections, with more than 357,000 total infections and 6,152 deaths.
However, in recent weeks there has been a significant drop in new infections, going from an average of 2,374 new daily cases in January to 456 in March.
Panama’s mortality rate is 1.7%, the second-lowest in Central America behind Costa Rica.