The confirmation by Colombian President Iván Duque that the first case of the coronavirus Delta variant was detected in the southwest city of Cali, and in a patient who recently returned from the United States, was accompanied by the emphatic call for all citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The presence of the Delta variant in the country and highly transmissible strain circulating in 124 nations, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), comes as Colombia has begun to witness an important deceleration in new per day cases and COVID-19 fatalities. On Sunday, the disease claimed 330 additional victims, the lowest daily increase since April 13 when 326 deaths were reported by the Ministry of Health. The total death toll from the pandemic stands at 118,868.
The urgency for all citizens, foreign nationals, and migrants residing in Colombia to get a coronavirus vaccine comes with the Ministry’s lifting of all restrictions, from age rankings to those with preexisting medical conditions. Health authorities over the weekend surpassed 25 million doses of coronavirus vaccines administered to the nation’s 50 million inhabitants and reaching with the complete double dose scheme 20% of the population. “The message to all is: you have to get vaccinated, the vaccines are massive and they are free!” highlighted President Duque. Colombia is averaging above 300,000 doses per day in its nationwide roll-out.
On Sunday, Colombia received a donation of 3.5 million Moderna vaccines from the U.S government and a shipment worth US$150 million. The donation was received with a joint press briefing between President Duque and U.S Ambassador Philip Goldberg. “This morning we woke up with 25 million vaccinated in Colombia […], an achievement that is made with allies and friends like the United States of America,” stated President Duque, before “reiterating a message of gratitude and friendship to President Biden.”
The Moderna donation is the largest hand-over by the U.S since 2.5 million single doses of the Janssen vaccine were delivered on July 1. “We congratulate you and your Government, Mr. President, for having reached more than 11 million fully vaccinated Colombians, more than 20 percent of the population of this country. This progress is extraordinary,” stated Ambassador Goldberg. “This donation is another symbol of our solidarity with the people and the Government of Colombia,” he added, “and allows us to continue to fulfill the United States’ commitment to being a global arsenal of vaccines to help end the pandemic throughout the world.”