This Thursday, Dr. Julio Castro, infectious disease internist and professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), offered a press conference in which he presented a balance about the development of the vaccination process, based on a new survey carried out among the Venezuelan population during the months of July and August of this year, and framed within a social monitoring structure that will allow to have indications of the current situation of the implementation of the vaccination plan. He also invited government entities to offer the necessary information for monitoring the pandemic and vaccination process.
“Currently there is no data, no methodology or information about the vaccination process beyond social networks. It is essential to know which and how many vaccines are arriving, which and how many are used, what are the adverse effects, what is the plan and the next cases. That is why we must resort to auxiliary methodologies such as this survey and field monitoring,” explained the doctor.
Regarding the vaccination process, Dr. Castro reported that the latest official data, offered by the Minister of Popular Power for Health to the National Technical Board, is from April. However, the results of two surveys carried out from July 28th through 30th, and from August 23rd to the 27th, taking representative samples of the population throughout the Venezuelan territory, show the following: In the July survey, the total population with at least one dose was 16.8% and the total population with full treatment was 7%; for the month of August both figures mounted to 22.45% and 11.76% respectively.
This indicates that compared to the previous month, the increase in the number of people with full treatment was only 4.76%, which would indicate that at the current rate, if more vaccines are not incorporated into the system, the period of time to cover the necessary population basis would be at least a year and a half. Another data that Dr. Castro shared is that of the doses applied, in the survey carried out during the month of July was 6,829,405 and on the month of August was 9,818,980. Dr. Castro said that according to information from the media, only 3.1 million vaccines have been declared as arriving in the country, which indicates that we lack official information on how many vaccines have really arrived or when they arrived.
Dr. Castro, described these statistics as worrying, since Venezuela today has the lowest vaccination rate in the region, adding to the uncertainty in the presence of the Delta variant and the ignorance of the arrival of more doses of vaccines to the country. “The lack of the second component of the Sputnik V vaccine has generated pressure and anguish in the group of people who only received the first dose, as they qualify as high-risk groups since they are mostly people over 65 years of age and medical personnel. It is necessary to emphasize the attention to the most vulnerable.”
Regarding the type of vaccine received, the infectious disease doctor reported that according to the study carried out, 78.9% of the people surveyed had received the Sinopharm-VeroCell vaccine (8,057,265 doses), of which 58.5% of the respondents have received both doses (there is a gap of 2.1 million people who have not received the second dose). Likewise, 21% of the people have received the Sputnik V vaccine (1,739,293 doses) of which only 28.5% have received the two doses (that means that approximately 900 thousand people have not received the second dose), and 0.1% of those surveyed have received the Cuban vaccine candidate Abdala.
“71.1% of those surveyed reported having received their last dose between July and August, however, 28.3% of the people who have not received the second dose affirm that it is because there were no vaccines in the vaccination center or it was closed,” he said.
Dr. Castro also made a brief analysis and balance of the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Venezuela, reporting that we are in the second wave with high transmission. In the last week there were 8,438 cases (more than any week of the first wave). Likewise, he indicated that approximately 75% of the cases that are admitted to hospitals do not receive a PCR test. Regarding the percentages of occupancy in intensive care units, he reported that occupancy rates are worrying, and this is a regional phenomenon. He detailed that the central states (Aragua, Carabobo, Capital District and Miranda) are highly affected.
Dr. Castro concluded with an exhortation to reactivate the National Technical Vaccination Board and to move forward with a view to improving vaccination practices. “Vaccination today is everyone’s problem and that is why we want it to be a solution for everyone. Those of us who are part of the technical and institutional field will continue joining efforts and expressing our desire to help and cooperate.”