LatAm Daily Briefing: Argentina To Trial Pfizer Vaccine; Bolivia’s Interim President Tests Positive for Covid-19; Peru’s Health

10 July: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

10 July: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

Argentina has been chosen as a test country for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, and which is currently in advanced clinical trials. The potential vaccine has already undergone tests in the US and Germany, and has been approved for further testing by the US Federal Drug Administration. After extensive analysis, a group of Argentina researchers were selected for their knowhow in respiratory diseases and logistical capabilities to test the vaccine developed by Pfizer, according to local media reports. Argentina remains in partial lockdown in a bid to contain the further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bolivia’s Interim President Jeanine Áñez has tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the third Latin American head of state to test positive, following Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. Áñez’s positive test comes just a few days after her Health Minister Eidy Roca tested positive for the virus, on July 5th, and the interim minister of the presidency, Yerko Núñez, and mining minister Jorge Fernando Oropeza, also tested positive. Áñez has been interim president since the ousting of President Evo Morales following a contested election result last October.

Brazil acted too late this year to stem deforestation of the Amazon, Vice President Hamilton Mourao said on Friday, and that the rate of destruction is unlikely to improve this year, according to Reuters. Deforestation in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon increased significantly in 2019, the first year of President Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, with researchers saying his calls for economic development in the Amazon have emboldened illegal loggers and land speculators. Mourao’s remarks were in reaction to preliminary data released by government space research agency INPE on Friday that showed a further 25% increase in the destruction during the first six months of 2020, compared to the same period a year ago.

Chile’s Health Ministry has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic in the country is far from over and the capital Santiago is a long way from emerging from quarantine, which was re-imposed after a partial lifting of the lockdown led to a surge in cases. The health authorities reported 3,133 new cases of the virus on Thursday, an increase of more than 1,000 on the day before, and pushing the total to more than 306,000 confirmed cases. In addition, 109 deaths were reported, bringing the total to 6,682. A lifting of quarantine measures would only take place in areas where there are no new reports of infections, Health Minister Enrique París said.

Mexico faces an “extremely complex scenario” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pan American Health Organization (PHO) warned on Friday, given that there is confusion among the population about the restrictions still in place to contain the virus, while the country has already begun reopening, with certain sectors returning to work in June and various states following suit despite the high number of new infections. Mexico’s death toll from the virus has now surpassed 33,000. The PHO’s representative in Mexico, Cristián Morales, was quoted by local media as saying that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has forecast that the percentage of the Mexican population living in extreme poverty will increase from 11.1% to 15.9% as a consequence of the pandemic. 

Peruvian health workers have called for a nationwide 48-hour strike on July 15th and 16th in protest at their low wages. Miguel Palacios, the dean of the country’s medical college, told local media that representatives of the country’s health workers will meet with Prime Minister Vicente Zeballos to discuss their demands, in the hope that the two sides can reach a “reasonable solution” that would avoid the strike action. Peru’s death toll from Covid-19 currently stands at 11,314, and is the second worst-hit country in South America after Brazil, while there have been more than 316,000 confirmed cases of the virus so far.


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