South America is now better vaccinated than the European Union

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It meant strong vaccination infrastructure and communication strategies were already in place, according to Dr Jarbas Barbosa, the assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization.

He said: “From the beginning, the main problem was access to vaccines. We have a strong tradition to organise large vaccination campaigns. When we started receiving the vaccines we vaccinated very, very fast.”

He added that South American countries focused on a “comprehensive communication strategy, and monitoring fake news”. They have used a mix of European, Chinese and American jabs.

Dr Barbos also said high death rates and crippling poverty in 2020, as a consequence of Covid, meant people were eager to get vaccinated. Peru, for example, has the world’s highest Covid-19 death rate – 624 per 100,000 people.

The South American region lagged behind others in January 2021, as North America, Europe and Asia started their inoculation drives first. It was only in November that South America hit the top of the tables for first doses.

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