Chile is known to be the most economically developed country in Latin America, with a GDP per capita of $28,500 – about the same as Bulgaria. It’s therefore not surprising the country’s vaccine rollout proceeded rapidly. As a matter of fact, by mid June of last year, the country had double-vaccinated a greater share of the population than the U.K. or U.S.
At the present time, more than 90% of Chileans are double-vaccinated – almost 20 percentage points higher than in Britain. Chile has also administered a greater number of ‘booster’ doses. By December 14th, over half the population had received one, compared to just 19% of Americans.
Unlike in the West, however, a large fraction of the vaccines given in Chile – 72% – were SinoVac (another 25% were Pfizer). While this often vaccine is said to be less effective than the Western-made ones, the WHO claims it’s up to ‘100% effective’ against severe disease:
A large phase 3 trial in Brazil showed that two doses, administered at an interval of 14 days, had an efficacy of 51% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, 100% against severe COVID-19, and 100% against hospitalization starting 14 days after receiving the second dose.
And a study carried out in Chile itself reported an effectiveness against hospitalisation of 88%, and an effectiveness against death of 86%.
These are big numbers. But by now, we know to treat them with a healthy degree of scepticism. So let’s look at excess mortality in Chile:
As in many other countries, Chile saw a major post-vaccination wave, which burgeoned in January of 2022. By this time, 86% of the population were double-vaccinated and 57% were ‘boosted’. Despite this, excess mortality peaked at 63%, and was actually greater than in the country’s first wave.
Of course, you wouldn’t know this by looking at Chile’s ‘official’ Covid death rate, which suggests the third wave was considerably less deadly than the first.
The excess mortality data from Chile make it very difficult to believe that vaccine effectiveness against severe disease is 86% – let alone 100%, as the WHO claims. And note: Chile had already seen substantial excess mortality in both 2020 and 2021 – meaning the spike in early 2020 can’t be attributed to the ‘dry tinder’ effect.
Add Chile to the growing list of countries whose post-vaccination waves were as or more deadly than their pre-vaccination waves.