One problem is the shortage of Covid vaccines. Another, what to do with that shortage. That is, with the vaccines that actually arrived in Argentina. During the first months of the year the doses arrived with droppers. But there is a fact that enhances the fragility of that scenario: the vaccines that the country had and could have applied before.
In December, January and until mid-February, the “idle” stock almost did not exist, because few doses entered and the vast majority were used. Between March and May the flow began to grow and, according to the analysis of the data, the vaccination rate it did not increase to the same extent.
The intuition of that gap between available and applied doses always existed. It was enough to take a daily look at the Public Vaccination Monitor to observe the unevenness of the campaign and, above all, the decline on weekends. Now a balance that contrasts figures and throws some conclusions.
The suspicion is that if Argentina had tightened the full throttle To immunize the largest number of the population in the shortest time possible, fewer patients would have populated the intensive therapies and these today would not show such high levels of occupation. That respite could have avoided the government’s rush to have a new strict confinement.
The data comes from a report prepared by the technical teams of the Alem Foundation, which was accessed Clarion. There it is detailed, day by day, how many vaccines entered the country and how many were applied. This calculation results in that, on average, there were a stock of 2 million vaccines that could have been delivered faster.
To get an idea of what that amount of vaccines without applying means, it is enough to check that in the quarter in question they were added in the country 1,669,761 new Covid cases and 26,016 deaths. This does not mean that with more doses applied all these deaths would have been avoided, but it is likely that there would not have been so many.
The average stock of doses in “warehouse” during the period analyzed, exactly from 1,990,049 vaccines, is prior to the greater volume of vaccines admitted at the end of May. If those latest arrivals were considered, the average underutilized would be higher. But the objective was to observe how many doses had not been applied before the arrival of the largest lots.
The work allows you to draw a “Stock curve” of vaccines. There it can be seen that after those first months of true drought (from December 24 to February 24), the availability began to grow and never went down everything that could have gone down in the middle of the obvious urge to immunize risk groups.
The application of vaccines depends on the provinces. The national government distributes and, then, each district is in charge of emptying the vials into syringes that they inject to their inhabitants, according to the established order of priority, and of registering it in the system. Some districts do it faster, others slower. The result, in light of the figures surveyed, has not been the best.
The data attracts attention because the operational capacity of the country it would be higher than that observed. The data indicate that there were a large number of vaccines not applied. According to the report, first peak of stock occurred at the beginning of March, when throughout the national territory availability climbed to 2.5 million vaccines.
Sputnik V vaccines stored in warehouse before distribution to the provinces.
On March 24, there were still 1 million available and new lots have already entered. It was then that the stock grew again to reach a new peak of 2.5 million doses. At that time, the vaccination rate accelerated a little more, since on April 23 the number of vaccines that remained unapplied had dropped to 750 thousand.
With some slight ups and downs, the vaccine stock has since shown a clear upward trend. There were only small falls, which would account for the slowness with which the immunization operation was progressing. So much so that on May 8 a new record peak was reached in stock, which exceeded 3.5 million vaccines.
That figure fell to just under one and a half million vaccines on May 23, when new batches began to arrive in Argentina, so that by the end of that month the available stock would already exceed the 4.5 million doses. You always see an idle capacity, that is, a much higher number of available vaccines than that used.
As clarified before, the peak of the end of May was not considered to calculate the underutilization average, since at the end of this report, there had not been any the time needed to administer those last doses. In conclusion, the records would show that since March the inoculation speed has never been at the level of the available vaccines.
Province by province
A complementary survey, carried out by Clarion, realizes that in the third week of May (before the arrival of the delayed batches of AstraZeneca) the national average of vaccines applied with respect to those available was of 81 percent.
The provinces with worst average: Jujuy (69%), Misiones (70%), Santiago del Estero (71%), Salta (72%), Chubut (75%), Chaco and Tierra del Fuego (76%), Corrientes, Tucumán, Formosa and Entre Ríos (77%), Córdoba (79%) and Santa Cruz (80%).
Those of best performance: La Pampa (97%), San Luis (91%), City of Buenos Aires, Río Negro, Neuquén and La Rioja (88%), Catamarca (85%), San Juan and province of Buenos Aires (83%), and Mendoza (81%).
Vaccination operation in Tecnópolis. Photo: EFE
The national government has attributed to the logistics complexity of the operation national that the vaccination campaign has not progressed faster. Only in recent days the Ministry of Health was able to celebrate in a press release the achievement of having supplied 2 million doses in a week, which represented 285,714 every 24 hours.
Although the vaccination centers do not respond to the Nation, but to each province, the distribution and coordination of the entire campaign depend on the Presidency. This operation is the target of study by the General Auditor of the Nation, where it seeks to determine efficiency of the “Strategic Plan for Vaccination against Covid 19”.
An uncomfortable question is whether the fact of not having vaccinated faster has had to do with the ‘fear’ that they will not arrive on time new batches and the provinces will run out of doses. It would be possible to determine if the size of the idle volume was deliberate or if this slowness is associated only with the level of coordination and performance that the campaign achieved.
According to the record of the last Saturday, available versus applied vaccines – a larger volume of doses had already entered the country – the national average was 78 percent. Some districts showed an improvement: Ciudad (89%), Córdoba (84%), Jujuy (79%), La Pampa (99%), San Luis (96%), Santiago del Estero (75%) and Tierra del Fuego ( 82%). The rest of the country was at even more deficit values than before.