Timeline: Tracking Latin America’s Road to Vaccination | via: AS/COA
Luisa Horwitz & Carin Zissis | August 16, 2021
AS/COA Online covers major developments and vaccine rollouts as countries strive to reach herd immunity.
Countries around the world are scrambling to get their citizens vaccinated, and it’s no surprise as to why Latin America would join the race: By July 2021—and with variants spreading—Latin America and the Caribbean had surpassed 1.25 million deaths. To top it off, dose distribution is sparking a kind of vaccine Cold War, given that Beijing, Moscow, and Washington are making large-scale vaccine pledges to several Latin American countries.
Through charts and a timeline AS/COA Online maps out major regional vaccine developments, kickoffs for vaccine campaigns, dose deliveries, vaccine approvals and accords, and clinical trials in an effort to cover Latin America’s progress toward vaccinations and, ultimately, herd immunity.
Chase Harrison contributed to this article.Chart: Progress of Vaccine Rollout
The World Health Organization has indicated that herd immunity against COVID-19 is achieved when 60 to 70 percent of a population is immune, although some medical experts have suggested the figure be higher. The lion’s share of immunity will come from vaccinations.
A note for readers: Most vaccines being made available in the region require two doses, but some are of single dosage, such as Johnson & Johnson and CanSino.
Chart: Vaccine Coverage and Supply Deals
Getting a population vaccinated means first securing the doses. AS/COA Online looks at vaccine population coverage, supply agreements, and regulatory approvals in the region as of April 9, 2021.
August 13, 2021 — Argentina’s Richmond laboratory, which is producing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine domestically, delivers over 990,000 first doses and 150,000 second doses component to the Health Ministry to inoculate the population. This first batch comes at a time of delivery delays from Russia.
August 11 — Brazil’s Senate approves a bill allowing the president to temporarily break patents for Covid vaccines and their components, and the legislation now awaits the executive’s signature. The move paves the way to more quickly obtain licensing agreements for domestic production of vaccines during states of emergency.
In July, the U.S. government announced support for waiving intellectual property protections for Covid vaccines in an effort to increase international production efforts.
Also on August 11, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announces it will expand access to Covid vaccines in Latin America, meaning it will go beyond the COVAX Facility’s coverage commitment of enough doses for 20 percent of countries’ populations.
August 6 — Spain completes its first COVAX donation involving 22.5 million AstraZeneca-Oxford doses to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru. This marks the first COVAX donation by an EU member to Latin American countries.
August 5 — The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approves a $30 million investment project to help accelerate Panama’s fight against Covid-19, by fully financing vaccine contracts with COVAX and the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine developers. This project is part of the IDB’s Vision 2025, an institutional plan to drive sustainable socioeconomic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
On this same day, Argentina announces it will offer AstraZeneca-Oxford or Moderna jabs to those who received a first dose of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, to account for delivery delays from the Russian manufacturer. Over 180,000 people in the country’s Buenos Aires province alone are past the 3-month period between the first and second doses as the country waits for more doses to arrive. A UK study in late June found that mixing vaccines appears to give good protection against the virus.
July 30 — El Salvador begins inoculating 12-year-olds and women at least 16 weeks pregnant.
July 29 — Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga says his country plans to cancel a 10-million dose contract for Russia’s Sputnik V shot due to lapsed registration deadlines with national regulator Anvisa. This comes one day after Guatemala cancels its 8-million dose Sputnik V contract due to delays in deliveries of paid shots. Several days earlier, Argentina also pressured Russia over shipment delays and threatened to cancel their contract for the doses.
July 27 — Brazil’s Anvisa provisionally suspends its import authorization for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin shot. This comes after the Indian developer terminated a sales agreement with Brazil on July 23 but announced it would continue working with Anvisa to get the shot approved for use in the country. On June 22, Brazil’s federal prosecution began a probe into the Health Ministry’s February deal to buy 20 million doses of Covaxin. At the time, prosecutor Luciana Loureiro Oliveira admitted that the Ministry signed the contract with Bharat Biotech despite Covaxin’s lack of regulatory approval and the availability of already-approved vaccines on the market at lower prices.
July 26 — The World Bank and WHO’s COVAX Facility announce a financing strategy for global vaccine distribution to accelerate dose deliveries to developing economies, involving advance purchases at lower costs from vaccine developers based on aggregate demand. The World Bank and multilateral development banks will help finance these buys.
July 19 — Chile’s Catholic University and Chinese manufacturer Sinovac hold a meeting in Santiago to announce potential plans for a production site for Sinovac’s new vaccine, which is designed to fight the Gamma variant, or P.1—a prevalent strain in South America.
July 14 — Haiti receives its first shipment of vaccines: 500,000 Moderna doses. The vaccines, donated by the United States, were delivered by COVAX as part of the Biden administration’s June pledge to distribute 80 million doses worldwide.
July 9 — Cuba authorizes Abdala, the first Latin American homegrown vaccine, for emergency use. This three-dose shot is one of five Cuban vaccine candidates. This approval comes at a time of social unrest across the island amid a surge in Covid cases.
July 8 — A hurdle for COVAX vaccine shipments getting sent to Venezuela gets cleared when the country finished paying the program for financial commitments worth $120 million. Previously, payments had been blocked due to sanctions.
July 2 — The United States announces plans to send El Salvador 1.5 million doses of Moderna. Hours later, China said it would send the same quantity of Sinovac doses.
Also on this day, Argentina changes vaccine regulations to speed up efforts to access Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. President Alberto Fernández signs a decree to smoothen language and pave the way for future vaccine donations. One day earlier, Argentine authorities announced they were studying possibilities of combining doses of different Covid shots to complete immunizations and to provide booster shots amid a surge in contagion.
June 29 — Guatemala asks Russia’s Foreign Direct Investment Fund to return a portion of the $80 million the Central American government paid in early April for 8 million Sputnik V doses, of which it has only received 150,000. Guatemala’s Health Minister Amelia Flores gave Russia 20 days to deliver the remaining doses.
June 27 — The COVAX Facility receives its first U.S.-donated vaccine shipment, involving 1.5 million doses headed to Honduras.
June 24 — Venezuela receives its first shipment of Cuba’s Abdala vaccine. Under a 12-million dose contract, it will be the first foreign country to receive the Cuban three-dose shot. Cuban developers say the vaccine is 92 percent effective. (See Efficacy and Clinical Trials.)
June 21 — An investigation reveals that in December 2020, Mexico contracted 35 million CanSino vaccines in partnership with a ghost company that didn’t register its existence until after the agreement was inked. That company, the Swiss-based firm Latam Pharma, has just four employees and its board chair is a lawyer investigated as part of the Panama Papers scandal. The story came to light after, on June 8, CanSino’s efficacy gets discussed in a daily evening press conference when a journalist questions Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell on the Chinese single-dose shot. In a heated exchange, López-Gatell evades clarifying what data the Health Ministry used to approve the shot. The same week, he announced the suspension of the evening press conferences.
June 16 — The World Health Organization urges the G7 countries that pledged to donate 1 billion Covid vaccine doses to prioritize Latin America as the region continues to experience high levels of contagion and mortality.
June 16 — Costa Rica rejects a planned delivery of Chinese vaccine Sinovac, citing concerns about the vaccine’s efficacy.
June 12 — Mexico begins sending 400,000 AstraZeneca doses across Latin America, starting with 100,000 to Belize and 150,000 to Bolivia and Paraguay. On May 15 and for the first time since making a bilateral deal with Argentina to produce and distribute up to 250 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine regionally, Mexico announces that by the end of the week it will distribute 800,000 AstraZeneca-Oxford doses and will send 800,000 to Argentina to do the same. This comes after Mexico received 1.3 million out of 4 million AstraZeneca-Oxford doses from the United States on May 20 as a result of production issues in the Mexican plant.
June 9 — The United States announces it will buy 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses to donate across the world in 2021 and 2022 through the COVAX Facility—the latest move in U.S. efforts to ramp up global vaccine rollouts. This plan expands an earlier U.S. commitment to donate 80 million doses by the end of June. Of that 80 million, 75 percent—or 60 million shots—will be distributed through COVAX. Latin America will receive about 20 million of the COVAX-designated shots. The rest of the total donated shots, or about 20 million, will go to countries deemed regional priorities for the United States, including the following countries in the Americas: Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and Panama. The 80 million doses expected to go out in June include the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford pledged in late April.
Previously—and ahead of her visit to Guatemala and Mexico—U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announced that Washington would give Mexico 1 million Johnson & Johnson doses. Mexico announces on June 4 that it will use these doses in the U.S.-Mexico border area as part of efforts to normalize crossings.
The U.S. government announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to increase international production efforts. The move comes in response to growing concern over vaccine access in poorer countries and to surges in contagion in many developing regions, including South America. Some, though, are concerned that this move would undermine vaccine safety.
June 5 — Venezuela announces an agreement to acquire 10 million doses of the Russian EpiVacCorona vaccine. Previously, the country hosted trials of the vaccine. Though details have not been released, Venezuela plans to manufacture doses of the vaccine locally. The next day, Brazil’s Uniao Quimica announces an agreement with a Russian lab to produce EpiVacCorona. Neither country has approved the vaccine yet.
June 3 — Chile ups the eligible age for men to receive the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot from 18 to 45 years and also suspends the second dose for this shot while authorities investigate a blood-clot case involving a 31-year-old male recipient of the vaccine. The revision matches regulations for women, where only those 45 and over can get the due to blood clot concerns.
May 15 — Venezuela becomes the first Latin American country to approve for emergency use the single-dose Russian shot Sputnik Light. Five days later, Nicaragua approved it as well. On May 6, Russia’s regulator authorized the single-dose shot, which has the same component as what’s in the first dose of the two-shot Sputnik V. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, responsible for distributing Russian vaccines abroad, said in a statement that Sputnik Light’s efficacy rate was at 79.4 percent according to real-world data, though final-stage trial results are slated to come out in coming weeks.
May 20 — After beginning production in January, Brazilian pharmaceutical company União Quimica releases the first 100,000 doses of a larger batch of Sputnik V vaccines using supplies sent from Russia. (See the Approvals and Agreements January 22 update.) The vaccines will be shipped to neighboring South American countries, given that Brazil’s regulator Anvisa has yet to approve this shot. Argentina was the first Latin American country to produce test batches of this vaccine on April 20.
May 13 — El Salvador sends 34,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to seven Honduran towns after their mayors posted pleas on social media.
May 12 — Brazilian regulator Anvisa pauses the administration of the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot on pregnant women after one 35-year-old expecting mother died from a stroke. The incident’s relation to the vaccine is under investigation.
On the same day, Mexican authorities announce that Pfizer will request approval from health regulator Cofepris to immunize 12- to 15-year-olds with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved this measure two days earlier.
May 10 — Brazilian President Bolsonaro announces the country will spend an additional $1 billion to acquire more COVID-19 vaccines. Bolsonaro is currently being investigated over his handling of the pandemic crisis.
May 1 — Vaccine developer AstraZeneca confirms delays to production of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in Latin America, excluding Brazil, but announces it will commit to delivering 150 million doses to the region in 2021. Delays pertain to shortage of critical supplies and delays to meet internal controls. As a result of the announcement, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, announces that the United States may send his country 5 million additional AstraZeneca-Oxford doses, after Washington sent roughly 2.7 million doses to Mexico in March.
April 28 — Russia’s Direct Investment Fund, the sovereign fund backing Sputnik V, announces that Mexico will begin production of the Russian shot in May 2021. The Birmex institute will assemble the active ingredients in Mexico with aims to produce the vaccine from scratch at a later date.
April 21 — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announces his government will donate 7.5 million vaccine doses to Latin America and the Caribbean after July 2021, when it’s expected that at least 50 percent of Spain’s population will be fully vaccinated. The government did not specify what vaccines will be donated.
Also on this day, Pfizer announces it identified the first confirmed instances of fake Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in Mexico and Poland after authorities seized counterfeited vials in separate investigations. In Mexico, 80 people received the fake vaccines at a price of $1,000 a dose.
April 20 — Argentina becomes the first Latin American country to produce test batches of Russia’s Sputnik V two-dose vaccine. Russia’s Gamaleya Institute—the producer of the vaccine—will inspect the test shots for quality, with mass production slated to begin in June. Five days later, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard visits Moscow to lay out plans for domestic production with state-run manufacturer Birmex.
On the same day, Mexican President AMLO receives the first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. He previously indicated that he would not be getting the vaccine due to having “sufficient antibodies” post infection.
April 10 — Paraguay’s Health Ministry pauses inoculations with AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine to citizens under 55 years of age, given recent concerns about blood-clot risks in Europe. Those who received the first AstraZeneca dose will be monitored and, if deemed safe, may take the second dose. Other available shots include Russia’s Sputnik V or India’s Covaxin, though only the former is approved for emergency use.
April 4 — El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele announces the country will receive 150,000 additional doses donated by China. This comes one week after the country received 1 million Sinovac doses, which will be administered on priority groups such as healthcare workers, educators, police, and military personnel. Given that the vaccine requires one shot, the delivery is enough to cover 15 percent of the country’s population. President Bukele tweeted that these shots are part of a 2-million-dose deal with the Chinese manufacturer. El Salvador switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 2018.
Also, across the region, events undermining vaccine confidence are taking place. Mexico City’s health authorities announce they fired a nurse from her duties who was filmed vaccinating an elderly with an empty syringe and the video circulated in social media, and Colombia reported similar cases of empty-syringe inoculation. In Bolivia, authorities jailed two nurses who allegedly hoarded 500 vaccine doses in a Northeast town near the Brazil border.
March 26 — Brazil announces its first homegrown vaccine, Butanvac, produced by São Paulo’s Butantan Institute, which is also manufacturing China’s Sinovac shot. The shot awaits clinical trials. Butanvac would be the first COVID-19 shot entirely developed and produced in the country. On the same day, Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa announces it also received requests to approve Phase 1 and 2 trials for another vaccine, Versamune, produced by Brazilian laboratory Farmacore in conjunction with U.S. lab PDS Biotechnology.
March 25 — After Venezuela’s parallel governments suggested they would reach an agreement to purchase vaccines from the WHO’s COVAX Facility (see Approvals and Agreements March 19 update,) the Maduro regime announces that Venezuela will not authorize the use or the importation of AstraZeneca-Oxford, the first vaccine scheduled to arrive to the country. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó negotiated the dose delivery.
March 18 — The United States announces a plan to loan 2.5 million AstraZeneca-Oxford doses to Mexico as part of a deal that would also see Washington send 1.5 million of its stockpiled doses to Canada. The announcement came after an early March virtual bilateral presidential meeting during which Mexican President AMLOrequested vaccine support from his U.S. counterpart Biden. On the following day (March 19) Foreign Minister Ebrard said the United States would be sending 2.7 million doses and denied that the vaccine delivery was connected to Mexico’s decision to fortify its southern border with Guatemala to stem migrant flows, although the country’s deputy health minister did suggest the tighter border restrictions would help prevent the pandemic’s spread.
March 17 — After several European countries halted use of AstraZeneca-Oxford doses over reports of post-vaccination blood clots, the WHO announces it recommends the vaccine’s use saying that “the benefits outweigh it risks.” The vaccine is slated for use in several Latin American countries.
March 14 — Chile’s rapid vaccination program reaches Antarctica, with Santiago sending doses of China’s Sinovac shot to a Chilean research base on the continent’s King George Island. Antarctica was the last continent to report a COVID-19 outbreak.
March 10, 2021 — Only 10 days after starting to administer vaccinations, Uruguay surpasses Argentina and Mexico—who began vaccinating citizens in late December—in terms of per capita doses administered, reaching 4.25 per 100 people. The country began vaccinations March 1 and, if it maintains this pace, could immunize its population in just four months.
March 9 — Chile surpasses Israel in daily vaccine dose administrations per capita with a rolling seven-day average of 1.08 daily doses per 100 people over one week, becoming the world leader.
March 1 — Colombia becomes the first country in the Americas to receive vaccines through the COVAX program as a shipment of 117,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines lands in Bogotá. The country expects to receive 20 million doses of vaccines through this mechanism in 2021.
July 22, 2020 — After a meeting between the Chinese Foreign Ministry and a number of Latin American and Caribbean counterparts—Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Peru—the Mexican government announces that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi offered a $1 billion loan to assist Latin America and the Caribbean’s access a Chinese vaccine.
May 29 — The WHO, along with the Costa Rican government, launches the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, an initiative aiming to make vaccines, tests, treatments, and other health technologies to respond to the virus widely accessible. The program is the brainchild of President Carlos Alvarado, who on March 24 requested that the global health entity create a repository of information for all member countries.
April 20 — The UN General Assembly adopts Mexico’s proposed resolution 74/274 calling for international cooperation to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines, and medical equipment to confront COVID-19. This comes after President or AMLO proposed at the March 26 G20 Summit that the international body intervene to ensure equal access to medicine, vaccines, and equipment for all countries.
August 9, 2021 — Chile announces it will begin to administer third Covid-19 vaccine doses as boosters starting on August 11 to adults over 79 years of age and those with health risks above 16 years of age.
May 12— Cuba starts vaccinating citizens in Havana with Abdala, one of its five homegrown vaccines. Late-stage trials for this shot involving more than 48,000 volunteers concluded, but results are not yet published. Cuba expects regulatory emergency use authorization in June for at least one of its two most advanced vaccine candidates, Abdala and Soberana 2.
March 2 — Nicaragua kickstarts vaccinations and begins administering Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses to citizens with chronic conditions.
March 1 — Uruguay also begins vaccinating military personnel, police, and education workers on this day with 192,000 Sinovac doses that arrived from China the previous week.
February 25 — Guatemala and Honduras each receive 5,000 Moderna doses donated by Israel, and the two countries begin vaccinations on the same day. The two Central America countries were the only Latin American countries who supported former U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem over Tel Aviv as the Israeli capital.
February 24 — Mexico begins administering the Sputnik V shot to citizens over 60 years old after receiving its first shipment of 200,000 doses of the Russian vaccine on February 22. The country expects 24 million doses of the Russian shot, although the timeline for upcoming shipments is unclear.
February 22 — Mexico begins vaccinating citizens with China’s Sinovac shot, CoronaVac in the city of Ecatepec using 200,000 doses that arrived two days earlier.
Also on this day, Panama continues to immunize citizens after a second shipment of about 67,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine arrived on the same day.
Also on this day, Chile reaches over 1 million vaccinations, and as of February 9, the country vaccinated 5.58 per 100 people. That puts Chile on track to meet its goal of vaccinating 5 million people by end of March, and 15 million by July. Chile has contracts with AstraZeneca-Oxford, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Sinovac.
January 23 — Brazil’s Fiocruz institute begins to distribute 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that arrived from India the day before after a week’s delay. Fiocruz agreed to produce up to 100 million AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine doses in September.
January 21 — Panama begins vaccinating citizens with Pfizer-BioNTech doses, making it the second Central American country after Costa Rica to start vaccinating its citizens.
Also this day, Ecuador begins to immunize health workers, the elderly, and their caretakers with the Pfizer vaccine.
December 29, 2020 — Argentina begins inoculating citizens with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine—the first Latin American country to do so. On December 24 the country received the first 300,000 doses, which are part of the estimated 60 million that will arrive by July 2021. Argentina approved the vaccine’s emergency use on December 23.
December 24 — Mexico begins inoculating the first of the country’s 1.4 million health workers with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. On December 23, the country received an initial shipment of about 3,000 doses, a day after Foreign Minister Ebrard announced that 1.4 million more Pfizer vaccine doses would arrive in January, and a total of nearly 12 million by June.
On the same day, Chile receives the first 10,000 doses of the purchased 10 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, and begins inoculating frontline health workers in Santiago. The country’s health regulator approved the vaccine for use on December 16.
Also on this day in Costa Rica begins inoculating elderly citizens and health workers with the Pfizer vaccine. It is the third country in the region and first in Central America to do so. This is the start of a program to vaccinate 1.5 million people in the country of 5 million.
December 12 — Brazil releases a national vaccination scheme, and plans to inoculate 51 million people—less than one quarter of its population—by June 2021. The four-stage plan, prioritizing health workers and the elderly, states that about 148 million Brazilians, or 70 percent of the country’s 212 million people, must be immunized to stop contagion. The plan’s start date depends on health regulator Anvisa’s approval of each vaccine. Earlier in the same week, Bolsonaro announces that vaccines will be free to all Brazilians, but not mandatory.
December 10 — Argentina’s Alberto Fernández gives details of the national vaccination plan, aiming to distribute 60 million doses across the country in the first six months of 2021. Among groups who will receive immunization first are the elderly, health care workers, and military personnel. The president also announces the initial purchase of 600,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to arrive before the end of the year, and the goal of vaccinating some 300,000 Argentines by the end of 2020.
December 8 — Mexico announces a five-stage vaccination plan to begin in December. Inoculation starts with health workers, followed by Mexicans 60 years and older by end of March, then those 40 years and older by end of May. Mexicans younger than 40 will begin to get the vaccine in June, and immunization is expected to last through March 2022.
December 3 — Ecuador’s Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos announces that the country plans to immunize around 30,000 people by January 2021. When answering a question on which vaccines would be administered first, Zevallos responds either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine.
December 1 — Chile’s president gives details for a national vaccine plan to immunize around 15.2 Chileans, or 80 percent of the population, prioritizing health workers, transport workers, and military personnel. The rollout is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2021, yet no set timeline has been established. Vaccination will be free and voluntary for most, while for high-risk groups and school children it will be mandatory.
Editor’s note: As vaccine shipments to the region accelerated during the first quarter of 2021, we shifted our timeline to chart and track major developments in the region. Please see charts and major developments for information on immunization progress being made.
March 7, 2021 — Nicaragua receives 200,000 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford’s Covishield vaccine from India.
March 6 — Also on this day, Venezuela receives a second shipment of 100,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V. The country received the first batch in the same amount on February 13.
March 3 — Guatemala receives 200,000 doses of India’s Covishield vaccine, produced in collaboration with AstraZeneca-Oxford. The country plans to administer these shots to frontline healthcare workers. The only vaccine approved for emergency use by Guatemala’s health ministry is Sputnik V, but, under the country’s vaccination guidelines, AstraZeneca-Oxford, Moderna, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are all recommended for use.
March 1 — Venezuela receives 500,000 Chinese Sinopharm vaccine doses.
February 23 — Nicaragua receives its first shipment of an undisclosed quantity of Sputnik V doses, which were donated by Russia. Nicaragua aims to inoculate 55 percent of its roughly 6.5 million people as a first step. On January 14, Nicaragua announced a plan to buy 7.4 million doses to reach this goal.
February 10 — Mexico receives the active substance for 2 million doses of the one-shot CanSino vaccine.
February 6 — Brazil receives the first batch of active ingredients for 2.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot at the Fiocruz center. Fiocruz expects to produce 15 million vaccines with more shipments expected in February. The government had ordered supplies enough to make 100 million of these vaccines. On the same day, São Paulo’s Butantan Institute begins production of 8.6 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac shot, which are expected to be ready for distribution by February 23. The active ingredients for this vaccine arrived on February 3.
January 31 — Chile receives a second shipment of nearly 2 million Sinovac vaccines, completing a 10 million-dose deal with the Chinese producer and putting the country on track to vaccinate 5 million Chileans by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
January 28 — Russia sends Argentina 240,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, and 20,000 of those doses were then sent to Bolivia. This first batch to Bolivia is part of the 2.6 million vaccine agreement signed with Russia on December 30.
January 27 — Mexico receives German CureVac vaccine doses for Phase 3 trials on 8,000 volunteers across the country. Phase 3 trials are also taking place in the country for CanSino and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
January 17 — Mexico’s AMLO reveals there will be a delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments. So far, the country received roughly half a million Pfizer doses. The delay stems from a January 15 Pfizer announcement that the company would be reducing shipments worldwide while it revamps its Belgian facilities to increase production.
January 5 — Ecuador announces that the first 50,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in the third week of January and the country will receive an additional 2 million doses in March, with additional purchases in negotiation. In December of last year, Ecuador’s Health Minister Zevallos announced the country plans to inoculate some 9 million people between March and September in collaboration with private health entities, setting aside $200 million to purchase vaccines from seven companies.
Approvals and Agreements
July 26, 2021 — Argentina signs a 20-million dose deal with Pfizer-BioNTech.
July 21 — Chile approves Russian vaccine Sputnik V for emergency use.
July 20 — Peru announces an agreement to purchase 20 million Sputnik V doses.
July 15 — Russia’s Gamaleya Institute approves the first batch of Sputnik V vaccines produced at the Richmond laboratory in Argentina. The laboratory has produced 1.3 million of Sputnik V first doses and 1 million second doses, though they cannot be used until they are authorized by the Argentine health agency.
July 12 — Moderna announces it signed an agreement to supply Argentina with 20 million doses of the two-shot vaccine or its updated variant booster shot, and delivery is expected to start in the first quarter of 2022.
July 8 — Peru’s Health Ministry authorizes Johnson & Johnson for use.
July 6 — Venezuela approves Russia’s EpiVacCorona vaccine for emergency use.
June 16 — Paraguay signs an agreement to purchase 1 million doses of the vaccine Vaxxinity, a U.S product in collaboration with Taiwanese biopharmaceutical company UBI-Asia. The deal is contingent upon emergency use authorization in Taiwan, which would trigger immediate authorization in the South American country.
June 15 — Ecuador’s regulator authorizes the Chinese CanSino single-shot vaccine for emergency use.
June 11 — Argentina authorizes a second Chinese shot—the one-dose CanSino vaccine—for emergency use.
On the same day, Brazil approves Pfizer-BioNTech for children over 12 years of age.
June 10 — Chile approves the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine for emergency use.
June 4 — Brazil signs a letter of intent to purchase 60 million doses of the Chinese single-shot CanSino expecting delivery in the second half of 2021. This would be Brazil’s second Chinese vaccine acquisition after Sinovac.
That same day, Brazil’s regulator Anvisa also approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for states to import. The approval has several conditions, however. One is that the shot can only be administered on healthy adults. Anvisa previously rejected importing doses of the shot due to the lack of sufficient information for approval.
Anvisa also approves the Indian Covaxin vaccine that day.
June 1 — The WHO approves a second Chinese vaccine, Sinovac, for emergency use.
May 31 — Chile authorizes the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for use on people from 12 to 16 years of age.
May 27 — Mexico’s regulator approves the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine for emergency use.
May 14 — Ecuador approves the Russian vaccine Sputnik V for emergency use.
May 7 — The WHO approves Chinese vaccine Sinopharm for emergency use. This is the first Chinese vaccine that the WHO has authorized for emergency use. A WHO emergency listing tells national regulators that a product is safe to use.
May 5 — Peru announces a deal for 12 million additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine slated to arrive by the end of the year, bringing the country’s total doses acquired from the U.S.-German developer to 60 million.
May 2 — Chilean President Sebastián Piñera announces that the country acquired an additional 4 million vaccine doses of China’s Sinovac and will begin immunizing those 35 to 45 years of age. This means the country’s acquired Sinovac doses add up to 17.2 million since the start of 2021.
April 30 — Brazil’s regulator Anvisa approves the start of domestic production of AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine at Rio de Janeiro’s Fiocruz biomedical institute. These vaccines would then undergo clinical trials and await regulatory approval for mass distribution. Brazil gave full authorization for the imported vaccine on March 12.
April 26 — Brazil’s Anvisa rejects the importation of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine requested by state governors due to lack of sufficient information to assess its safety. (See the April 16 update in the Efficacy and Clinical Trials section below.)
April 11 — Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro says on a live television address that the country signed a deal to produce 2 million monthly doses of Cuba’s Abdala vaccine in August or September. Venezuelans will also take part in Phase 3 trials for this Cuban vaccine. Abdala is one of Cuba’s four shots in development.
April 9 — Panama approves the emergency use of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, the country’s third vaccine approval.
April 7 — Chile’s health regulator approves Chinese one-shot vaccine CanSino for emergency use for those between 18 and 60 years of age. The health regulator’s director notes the age restriction is because the Chinese manufacturer has not disclosed the effects of the shot on those over 60, and because 84 percent of those Chileans have already been vaccinated. This is Chile’s fourth approved COVID-19 vaccine.
On the same day, Mexico announces that regulator Cofepris approves India’s Bharat Biotech vaccine, Covaxin, for emergency use.
April 6 — Guatemala announces a deal to purchase 16 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The doses are scheduled to arrive within two weeks.
April 1 — Panama approves Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use, making it the second one the country approved after Pfizer-BioNTech.
March 31 — Brazil’s Anvisa approves emergency use of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine. The government has already purchased 38 million doses.
March 25 — Colombia becomes the first Latin American country to approve emergency use of the U.S. single-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson after the country conducted clinical trials on nearly 6,000 volunteers. In December 2020, Colombia reached an agreement to purchase 9 million doses of this vaccine.
March 19 — Venezuela’s opposition leader Guaidó and de facto President Maduro agree to use $30 million to buy vaccines through the WHO’s COVAX Facility, involving $12 million for temperature control equipment and $18 million for the first vaccine shipment. The opposition government said it would ask Washington to unfreeze funds currently held in U.S. accounts related to sanctions against the Maduro government so that the cash could be used for vaccine acquisition.
March 15 — Brazil’s government announces it signed a deal with Pfizer Inc to purchase 100 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech shot, to be delivered by September.
March 12 — The WHO grants emergency use authorization for U.S. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
Also on this day, Brazil gives full authorization for AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine, which will be manufactured domestically at Rio de Janeiro’s Fiocruz center. The vaccine is already being administered in the country via shipments from India’s Serum Institute. In addition, Brazil announces it reached an agreement to purchase 10 million Russian Sputnik V doses, which will be imported by firm União Química.
March 9 — Mexico announces a 12 million-dose deal to acquire the not-yet-approved Chinese vaccine Sinopharm to arrive between March and June, and an additional deal with Sinovac to receive a total of 20 million doses by July. This comes one week after U.S. President Biden responded to the Mexican government’s request for help with vaccines, saying the United States will not be sharing any with its southern neighbor in the immediate future.
March 3 — Nicaragua approves Russian Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use.
March 1 — Venezuela approves emergency use for China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
February 27 — Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine received regulatory approval for emergency use in the United States for people 18 years of age and older. Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru all conducted clinical trials with this American vaccine, but no regulatory approval in the region has taken place yet.
February 26 — Brazil signs a deal to buy 20 million Covaxin shot doses from India’s Bharat Biotech institute, worth $290,000. The first 8 million are slated to arrive in March, and the whole lot by May.
February 25 — Guatemala approves the Russian vaccine Sputnik V for emergency use.
Ecuador also approves emergency use of China’s Sinovac shot.
February 24 — Honduras approves the Russian vaccine Sputnik V for emergency use.
February 23 — Brazil approves full use—rather than just emergency use—of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, despite not having a supply deal. The authorization by health regulator Anvisa is the first of its kind in the region, with emergency use a fast-tracked green light for a medication by regulators, given its urgency.
On this day, Colombia’s regulator approves emergency use for AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine.
February 21 — Argentina approves China’s Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use and says it expects to receive 1 million doses. The country also underwent a vaccine scandal resulting in Health Minister Ginés González García resigning on February 19, after it became known he used connections to give fast access to vaccines to people not yet entitled to inoculation. Health Minister Carla Vizzotti assumed the role on February 20, and pledged better oversight of vaccine distribution.
February 11 — Bolivia signs a deal with Chinese manufacturer Sinopharm for an initial supply of 500,000 vaccine doses, and Bolivian President Luis Arce announces that 100,000 of those are donations.
February 10 — Mexico approves emergency use for the Chinese vaccine CanSino along with Sinovac’s CoronaVac, bringing the total number of vaccines authorized in Mexico to five. The development is important news in the country, where Pfizer production delays had resulted in vaccinations coming to a near standstill, although the country was slated to receive, over the course of February, doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Novavax.
February 9 — Argentina reaches an agreement with Chinese firm Sinopharm to purchase 1 million vaccine doses, pending regulatory approval. The government expects the first shipment to arrive at the end of the month. Also, Argentina approves emergency use of the Covishield vaccine produced at India’s Serum Institute, becoming the third approved vaccine in the country. This shot is manufactured in collaboration with firm AstraZeneca and University of Oxford, and is manufactured using the similar technology.
February 6 — Pfizer-BioNTech applies for full regulatory approval in Brazil.
Also on this day, A Reuters report indicates that Uruguay approves the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use.
February 4 — Peru reaches a deal to buy 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Interim President Francisco Sagasti announces that over 500,000 doses will arrive by April, with the first half arriving in March.
February 3 — Colombia approves the Chinese Sinovac vaccine for emergency use.
February 2 — Peru approves emergency use of the U.S. Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
January 27 — Chilean regulatory agency ISP approves emergency use of 6 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, the third regulatory approval in the country.
On this day, Peru approves emergency use of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.
January 26 — Mexican President AMLO announces that state governors may acquire vaccines on their own accounts, after the country recorded the highest daily record of new confirmed cases to date—over 22,000 in 24 hours. AMLO, who confirmed he’d tested positive for COVID-19 two days earlier, also announces that Mexico will buy 24 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine despite this vaccine not being approved by Mexican regulatory agencies yet.
January 24 — Ecuador approves emergency use for AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine.
January 22 — Brazilian regulators approve the use of Sinovac’s locally manufactured CoronaVac vaccine, which allows for a distribution of 4.8 million more doses, on top of the 6 million doses made in China already in distribution.
Firm União Quimica in Brazil begins local production of the Sputnik V vaccine—still without regulatory approval—with the goal to manufacture 8 million monthly doses for distribution.
January 20 — Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard announces that AstraZeneca-Oxford’s active substance for the vaccine’s domestic production has arrived from Argentina paving the way to produce 6 million doses that are estimated to be ready for use as early as late March.
Chile approves emergency use of Chinese firm Sinovac’s vaccine CoronaVac, the second vaccine approved in the country.
January 17 — Brazilian regulator Anvisa approves both the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Sinovac vaccines for use. Minutes after Anvisa’s announcement, São Paulo state authorities begin vaccinating citizens. Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello announces that a national vaccination campaign would begin on January 20.
January 15 — Paraguay becomes the fourth Latin American country to approve Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine’s use.
January 13 — Venezuela approves emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, the third Latin American country to do so.
Bolivia signs a deal with India’s Serum Institute for 5 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. The first 1 million doses are slated to arrive in April.
January 12 — Guatemala signs purchase agreements with Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer.
Peru’s government purchases 52 million vaccine doses—38 million from Chinese firm Sinopharm and 14 million from AstraZeneca-Oxford. Interim President Sagasti announces that 1 million doses of the Chinese vaccine will arrive by end of January, while the British vaccine is slated to arrive in September. He also announces that Peru plans to vaccinate around 15 million Peruvians, about half of the population, by June.
January 5 — Colombian health regulator Invima authorizes emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, marking the first approval under the country’s vaccination plan. Colombia is set to receive the first delivery of 1.7 million Pfizer vaccines in February, and Colombians over 60 years old, those with health risks, and health workers are first in line.
Brazil’s Health and Foreign Ministries issued a statement announcing that its public health center Fiocruz is in advanced talks with India’s Serum Institute in order to receive a shipment of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines produced from the Asian country. A day earlier, Fiocruz presented the regulator Anvisa with information about the affiliate producer in India and says it will evaluate that vaccine compared to the one produced in the United Kingdom before deciding on potential emergency approval.
January 4 — Mexico approves the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, the second one authorized for use since Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was approved in December. Foreign Minister Ebrard tweets that production in Mexico will start very soon, referring to the plan announced in August to produce up to 250 million doses for Latin America in collaboration with Argentina.
January 2 — Brazil’s Anvisa announces it approved a request from leading entity Fiocruz to import 2 million doses of the not yet authorized AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Fiocruz agreed in June last year to locally produce the British vaccine in a $127 million government deal. The regulator says this import is to speed inoculation once vaccine use is approved. As of this date, Brazil has yet to approve any vaccine for use.
December 31, 2020 — Dominican Republic’s health regulator approves the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in the Caribbean nation.
El Salvador approves importing, distributing, and using the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. On November 24, President Bukele had announced an agreement with the British firm two purchase 2 million doses to arrive in the first three months of 2021.
December 29 — Brazil urges COVID-19 vaccine producers to speed up applications for use in the country as pressure grows for President Bolsonaro to start vaccinations. Meanwhile, Russia requests regulatory approval from Anvisa to launch Phase 3 trials of the Sputnik V vaccine in Brazil.
December 22 — Argentina’s health regulator authorizes the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.
December 16 — Ecuador’s health regulator approves use for Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.
December 15 — Panama approved emergency use for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
December 11 — Mexico’s medical safety commission approves the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, the fourth country to do so after Britain, Canada, and Bahrain.
December 8 — Brazil signs a letter of intent with U.S. firm Pfizer and German lab BioNTech to secure the delivery of over 70 million vaccine doses in 2021.
December 3 — Brazil’s Senate approves Bolsonaro’s decree designating $370 million to purchase doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Health Minister Pazuello said a day earlier that 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine would arrive in the first half of 2021.
November 25 — Vaccine manufacturer COVAXX announces it received purchase agreements amounting to $2.8 billion to deliver doses globally, including to Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. The laboratory expects to produce 100 million doses in first half of 2021, and 1 billion by the end of the year.
November 15 — Venezuela’s Maduro announces he will purchase 10 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for administration in the first quarter of 2021. He also says that additional doses of the Russian vaccine will be produced in Venezuelan laboratories.
November 7 — Argentina makes a deal with firm AstraZeneca to receive 22 million vaccine doses, which it anticipates will come in the first six months of 2021.
November 2 — Argentina’s president announces an agreement with Russia to purchase 10 to 25 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, which will be delivered at some point between December and the first half of January 2021.
October 26 — Ecuador announces it will spend roughly $150 million to acquire 14 million doses to immunize 70 percent of the population. The country is in talks with several laboratories for this purchase, including AstraZeneca and Pfizer, as well as the COVAX Facility.
October 13 — The Mexican government announces the signing of additional agreements to acquire up to 198 million vaccine doses, including from the WHO’s COVAX Facility and the international laboratories of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and CanSino Biologics. Mexico is negotiating to test Phase 3 vaccines from the following laboratories: CanSino (China), Curevac (Germany), Janssen (United States), Novavax (United States), Sanofi-Pasteur (France), Sputnik V (Russia), ReiThera, (Italy). Mexico has so far paid $281 million of the $1.6 billion total value of the vaccines.
October 11 — Peru signs an agreement with Pfizer to receive a first batch of 9.9 million vaccine doses, with further plans to secure a total 1.75 million doses through the first quarter of 2021. The two-dose vaccine would immunize about half a million people.
September 30 — São Paulo Governor João Doria signs a $90 million contract to buy 46 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine. Its distribution is slated to begin on December 15.
September 24 — Brazil announces it will set aside $450 million to join the WHO’s COVAX Facility, and will buy enough doses to inoculate 10 percent of the population by the end of 2021.
September 22 — Chilean President Sebastián Piñera announces an agreement for Chile to receive 10 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. He also announces an agreement with the COVAX Facility, which will allow for 8 million doses of a vaccine “of choice, with WHO approval,” he says. The president reiterates Chile’s plan to acquire 14.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. (The estimated population of Chile in 2020 is just over 19 million, according to the UN.)
September 9 — The Russian Direct Investment Fund announces it will supply Mexico’s Landsteiner Scientific laboratory with 32 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine in November, pending regulatory approval.
August 13 — López Obrador says the Oxford-AstraZeneca University distribution of the vaccine in Mexico will be “universal and free.” Should regulatory agencies find the vaccine effective, the laboratory could produce up to 35 million vaccine doses monthly. On August 16, López Obrador suggests the vaccine could be administered as early as the first quarter of 2021.
August 12 — Argentine President Fernández announces that the national laboratory mAbxience signed an agreement with AstraZeneca and Oxford University to produce a COVID-19 vaccine, in Phase 3 of testing. The president said that between 150 and 250 million doses would be available for distribution across Latin America within the first six months of 2021. Brazil is not included in this projection, as it has its own agreement for production and distribution with the British entities. Argentina also agreed with Mexico that, while the first stage of production—making the active substance—will take place in Argentina, the final steps will take place in Mexico’s Biomont laboratory.
The same day, Mexican Foreign Minister Ebrard says Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim will finance production of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in partnership with Argentina to be distributed across Latin America.
In Brazil, the Paraná state government announces it’s signed a document of mutual understanding with Russia, and a local technology institute, Tecpar, which said it expects to produce a Russian vaccine by the latter half of 2021. On July 29, Paraná made an agreement with Chinese firm Sinopharm to launch a vaccine trial, pending regulatory approval.
August 7 — Brazilian billionaire Jorge Lemann’s foundation, alongside other private-sector investments, announce they will pay $18 million for the construction of a factory to produce the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
June 27 — Brazil’s Health Ministry signs an agreement with AstraZeneca Brazil for local production of the Oxford vaccine, a $127 million deal to produce it with leading public health entity Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, or Fiocruz, with the goal of producing 30 million doses by January 2021. One day earlier, President Bolsonaro announces he will set aside roughly $356 million to buy the first 100 million doses of this vaccine and support domestic production.
June 11 — The governor of the Brazilian state of São Paulo announces that the government’s Butantan Institute, a center for scientific study, will partner with Sinovac Biotech to develop the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine.
Efficacy and Clinical Trials
Clinical testing for vaccines usually occurs in three phases: phase 1 involves testing dosage safety on a small group of volunteers, phase 2 extends trials to a wider group, and phase 3, prior to limited use and approval, involves large-scale testing to compare infection rates from those given placebo vaccines.
July 19, 2021 — Brazil’s health ministry approves a trial of a third dose of AstraZeneca that will involve 10,000 volunteers.
July 9 — Brazil’s regulator Anvisa approves clinical trials for its homegrown Butanvac shot produced by São Paulo’s Butantan Institute for clinical trials.
July 6 — Brazil’s Anvisa announces it approved phase 1 and 2 clinical trials involving 150 volunteers for a Covid vaccine by French developer Sanofi Pasteur in collaboration with British firm GlaxoSmithKline. This vaccine candidate consists of two doses taken 21 days apart. This comes after, on June 21, Honduras starts phase 3 clinical trials with the French-British vaccine.
Also on July 6, Taiwanese vaccine developer Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. announces it applied for phase 3 trials in Paraguay, its only diplomatic tie in South America. The trials would be conducted in collaboration with the School of Medical Sciences at the National University of Asunción.
June 21 — Cuba’s Abdala vaccine, one of five being developed in the island, has an efficacy rate of 92.28 percent according to Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (CIGB), the national vaccine developer. On June 19 Cuba’s Soberana 2 vaccine showed positive preliminary-trial results with a 62-percent efficacy rate and only two of the inoculation’s three doses, according to national biopharmaceutical firm BioCubaFarma.
June 16 — The German vaccine CureVac shows sub-par preliminary results in a trial involving 40,000 participants between Latin America and Europe. Estimated findings show a 47-percent efficacy rate, the lowest reported from any Covid vaccine developer. Final results are expected in the coming weeks.
June 14 — The two-dose U.S. Novavax vaccine shows a 90.4 percent overall efficacy rate against COVID-19 and 100 percent efficacy against severe and moderate cases, according to Phase 3 study data involving over 29,900 participants across 119 cities in the United States and Mexico.
May 16 — Authorities in the city of Botucatu in the Brazilian state of São Paulo began inoculating citizens 18 to 60 years of age with the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot. The medical research project involves 45 vaccination points around the city, and researchers aim to vaccinate 80,000 of Botucatu’s 149,000 residents.
May 5 — Chile announces a new Sinovac clinical trial in a university study involving 5,000 children between 3 and 17 years of age. The trial will begin in July and results are expected in November, although the study’s protocol is still being prepared.
May 3 — Venezuela’s health minister announces the country will begin clinical trials this month for the Cuban vaccine Abdala. The trials are slated to end in July with results published one month later. In March, Cuba approved Phase 3 trials for this vaccine.
April 16 — Brazil’s regulator Anvisa says it lacks sufficient information to assess the safety of the Sputnik V vaccine after the Northeastern state of Maranhão sent the Supreme Court an emergency request to allow its import. Nine Latin American countries had approved the Russian vaccine for emergency use as of this date.
April 13 — Mexico announces that Phase 1 clinical trials for the homegrown Patria vaccine will begin, with 100 volunteers between 18 and 55 years of age in the capital.
April 11 — São Paulo’s Butantan Institute, which develops China’s Sinovac shot for distribution in the country, announces study findings that show the shot is 50.7 percent effective against mild Covid-19 cases, 83.7 percent effective against moderate cases, and 100 percent effective against severe cases. In addition, research shows the shot is equally effective against the original L strain, Brazil’s P.1 variant, and a lesser known P.2 strain.
Also on this day, a Chinese disease control official says that current Chinese vaccines offer lower-than-desired protection rates against COVID-19, and the country is considering different strategies to boost effectiveness, such as combining ingredients.
March 31 — Cuba concludes the first stage of Phase 3 trials of its Soberana 02 vaccine, involving 44,000 volunteers. Preliminary results suggest that participants who reported contracting COVID-19 were mild cases.
March 18 — An Oxford University releases a study with information suggesting that both the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer-BioNTech shots are effective against Brazil’s P.1 variant as the UK variant.
March 1 — Cuba begins third- and final-stage trials for its homegrown Soberana 02 two-dose vaccine, injecting roughly 44,000 volunteers with a test supply of 150,000 doses.
February 8 — Chinese vaccine CanSino’s late-stage trial results show a 65.7 percent efficacy rate for preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19.
February 2 — Mexico’s Foreign Minister Ebrard announces that Phase 3 joint trials with the United States for the Novavax vaccine will begin involving 2,000 Mexican participants in seven medical centers nationwide. Novavax’s shot achieved 89.3 percent efficacy rate in the UK final-stage trials, but was less effective against the South African variant. Mexico also launches, with some technical difficulty, an online platform for people to register to get vaccinated, starting with older citizens.
The Lancet releases an article with study findings that the Sputnik V vaccine has a 91.6 percent efficacy rate in a study with 20,000 participants, putting to rest some transparency concerns. On the same day, Mexico approves emergency use of the Russian vaccine.
January 29 — Johnson & Johnson announces a 66 percent efficacy rate for its one-dose shot at preventing moderate to severe cases in Latin American trials.
January 19 — Cuba concludes first-stage trials of the Mambisa vaccine, which were approved on December 7. The island also has another nationally developed vaccine, Abdala, in Phase 1 trials. With these two candidates, Cuba has four domestic vaccines under development.
January 14 — Chile’s government confirms that despite the Chinese Sinovac vaccine’s low efficacy rate, it will administer 60 million doses over three years as planned.
January 12 — Brazil’s Butantan Institute says efficacy rates for Chinese firm Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine—with which the São Paulo entity began clinical trials in July—is actually 50.4 percent when considering more data, and not 78 percent as they announced less than a week earlier. The efficacy rate fell nearly 28 points when factoring in data from all trial participants, including “very mild” cases and those with no medical assistance needed, while the 78 percent effectiveness pertained to mild to severe cases only, according to the Institute.
January 8 — Mexico’s Foreign Ministry announces that health regulator Cofepris has approved Phase 3 clinical trials for Germany’s CureVac vaccine.
December 3, 2020 — São Paulo’s Butantan Institute receives 1 million of the agreed 46 million doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine, which is in late-stage testing across Brazil. The Institute says it expects the Chinese entity to release efficacy results by December 15.
November 4 — Chile’s Piñera announces that national regulator ISP approved Phase 3 trials for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
November 2 — Cuba begins Phase 1 clinical trials for its second vaccine, Soberana 02, after the island’s Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment, and Medical Devices approved the trials on October 27.
October 23 — Brazil regulator Anvisa authorizes the Butantan Institute to import 6 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine for Phase 3 trials, and private pharmaceutical firm União Quimica announces a deal with Russia to produce the Sputnik V vaccine, pending regulatory approval.
October 21 — Anvisa announces the death of a volunteer in Brazil’s Oxford-AstraZeneca clinical trial. According to media reports, the volunteer was in a control group and did not receive the vaccine. After a review of the case, Oxford University continues the trial without pause.
October 12 — U.S. firm Johnson & Johnson pauses all vaccine trials for safety reviews after a participant developed an unexplained illness mid-trial, just as Colombia administers the vaccine to 17 volunteers in the Santander department.
September 15 — Brazil’s Anvisa gives AstraZeneca approval to test the Oxford vaccine on an additional 5,000 Brazilians in Phase 3 trials, for a total of 10,000 volunteers.
September 13 — AstraZeneca resumes global testing for the vaccine developed with Oxford University after a pause in trials following safety reviews.
September 10 — AstraZeneca’s CEO announces that the Oxford vaccine may well be likely be ready for distribution at the end of the year, despite clinical trials being temporarily held up for safety reviews.
Also, the Brazilian state of Bahia agrees to conduct Phase 3 trials of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, pending regulatory approval. The state plans to purchase 50 million doses.
September 9 — Brazilian laboratory DASA announces it agreed to conduct Phase 2 and 3 trials of the U.S. COVAXX vaccine, pending regulatory approval, once the first phase of trials concludes in Asia.
Also on this day, Peru begins clinical trials for the Sinopharm vaccine.
September 8 — The heads of nine pharmaceutical firms issue a joint statement vowing not to push for regulatory approval of their vaccine candidates before assuring safety and effectiveness, and to “ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process.”
On the same day, AstraZeneca announces it’s pausing its Phase 3 global trials for a safety assessment after a volunteer in the United Kingdom showed a serious reaction to the vaccine.
August 28 — Per Reuters, Peru looks to begin separate testing of Chinese and U.S. vaccines. In the case of the Chinese tests, clinical tests will be led by Sinopharm, in collaboration with Lima’s Cayetano Heredia University and National University of San Marcos, with 6,000 volunteers. Johnson & Johnson’s will involve 4,000.
August 26 — Colombia’s National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute approves clinical trials for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine at various study centers across the country.
August 25 — The Mexican government announces that 2,000 Mexicans have volunteered to participate in Phase 3 trials of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.
August 24 — Cuban laboratory Soberana’s vaccine enters Phase 1 trials with a group of 20 volunteers, and estimates it will reach Phase 2 in late October.
August 18 — Brazil’s Anvisa approves human trials for over 6,000 volunteers for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the fourth candidate to enter Phase 3 trials in the country, joining the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sinovac Biotech, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.
August 11 — The Mexican Foreign Ministry announces it will conduct Phase 3 clinical trials developed by U.S. firm Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical branch, Janssen, as well as two Chinese companies, CanSino Biologics and Walvax Biotechnology Co Ltd.
August 2 — The Chilean Science and Health Ministries announce the start of Phase 3 clinical trials for the Chinese Sinovac vaccine trial, in collaboration with country’s Catholic University, which involves 3,000 volunteers over the age of 18. The university’s immunology center signed an agreement of cooperation with the Chinese pharmaceutical firm on July 16.
July 21 — Brazil’s government approves the country’s third clinical trial for August, U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German laboratory BioNTech’s joint study.
July 3 — The Butantan Institute announces it’s reached Phase 3 for the Sinovac Biotech vaccine with 9,000 volunteers across the country.
June 23 — A group of 12 Argentine scientists, supported by the National Scientific and Technical Research Council and the National University of San Martín, begin preclinical testing for a potential home-grown vaccine.
June 3 — Brazilian health regulator Anvisa announces it’s approved human clinical trials to begin for an Oxford University vaccine in São Paulo, involving roughly 2,000 volunteers.
May 28 — Mexico’s National Autonomous University, better known as UNAM, announced the first stage of animal testing for a nationally developed vaccine, with a target of moving to human clinical trials in 2021.