Colombia nears herd immunity a year after vaccine roll-out

EFE/ Carlos Ortega

The National Vaccination Plan completes its first year on Monday with 64% of Colombians having achieved high levels of immunity after completing a double-dose vaccination scheme. Just six percentage points shy of reaching the 70% threshold for “herd immunity,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, by having administered almost 75 million doses, including 7 million as “booster” shots, the Ministry of Health is on course to meet its deadlines announced 12 months ago.

The first anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out comes as the country reached a total 6 million cases and death toll of 137,115.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health confirmed an additional 5,532 infections, of which 2,438 are in Bogotá, followed by the departments of Valle del Cauca (553), Antioquia (324) and Santander (322). Omicron displaced Delta as the 100% dominant variant in the country, and after a peak with 35,573 cases on January 15, has been decelerating steadily, including per-day deaths, which on Sunday, marked another decline with 162 fatalities.

Over the weekend, presidential candidate of the Center Hope Coalition, Alejandro Gaviria, and who held the portfolio of Minister of Health during six years of President Juan Manuel Santos’ two-terms, remarked on social media that Colombia should lift the mandatory face mask mandate for persons outdoors.

President Iván Duque responded to Gaviria’s suggestion, stating that “for now, we have to continue fighting the pandemic, advancing in mass vaccination and continuing with protection mechanisms. We hope that once our goals are met, we’ll adapt measures that are more flexible.” Duque is visiting several European nations where COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted or eased in recent days.