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The Telegraph

The new Covid surge in Chile shows how vulnerable the UK is until we’re fully vaccinated

What’s going on in Chile? How can a nation with one of the fastest vaccine roll-outs in the world – the vaccine poster child of south America, no less – be being hit so hard by a new wave of Covid 19? Chile has recorded 49,542 new cases in the past week, the highest level since the pandemic began.

Deaths have also started creeping up again. Some have compared Chile with Israel, the vaccine superstar of the Middle East, where cases, hospital admissions and deaths have all fallen away sharply in the wake of its world-beating vaccination campaign. But it’s an erroneous comparison; apples and pears.

Israel has fully vaccinated 56 per cent of its total population, while Chile is at only 20 per cent. On the more flattering (but shaky) single dose measure, Israel is at 61 per cent compared to Chile’s 37. The mix of vaccines the two countries are using is also very different.

Israel is exclusively using the new mRNA vaccines, its rollout dominated by the super-efficacious Pfizer jab. Chile, in contrast, is split 10 per cent Pfizer / 90 per cent Sinovac. This Chinese made vaccine is more conventional, can be stored in a regular fridge and has efficacy levels reported from trials in the range of 50.65 to 83.5 per cent.

It is China’s equivalent of the Oxford AstraZeneca jab.

Worryingly, that lower 50.65 figure comes from the later stages of a trial in Brazil where the new P1 variant is now dominant.

The same variant has been detected in Chile and is likely to be driving the new wave there, at least in part.