Amid shortages, Paraguay to use all COVAX vaccine doses at once

Paraguay Mario Abdo Benítez
Paraguay Mario Abdo Benítez visits health unit amid health crisis. Photo: Presidencia de la República del Paraguay

Paraguay’s embattled government is trying to appease disgruntled voters by extending its vaccine rollouts to the maximum — while potentially creating a medium-term problem. The Mario Abdo Benítez administration decided to use all 36,000 jabs received from the UN-backed COVAX Facility as first doses, instead of holding stocks back to administer second doses.

The government is looking to get as many jabs in arms as possible, claiming it will manage to receive more supplies in time for second-dose deadlines — but previous failures suggest that will be easier said than done.

As ICU occupancy rates reach 100 percent, the country has administered only 0.18 doses per 100 people. The health crisis has pushed Paraguayans to the brink and protests have erupted in capital Asunción. After a failed attempt to oust Mr. Benítez, protesters torched the headquarters of his Colorado Party.

The country has confirmed 188,000 coronavirus infections and 3,620 deaths so far.

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