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Colombia to vaccinate more than 80% against COVID-19 to cut risk of new cases - Metro US

Colombia to vaccinate more than 80% against COVID-19 to cut risk of new cases

COVID-19 vaccination campaign for kids, in Bogota

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia will seek to vaccinate more than 80% of its population against COVID-19, up from a previous target of 70%, as it looks to cut the risk posed by further waves of the pandemic, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said on Wednesday.

Colombia has reported more than 5.05 million confirmed coronavirus infections, as well as 128,188 deaths, according to government figures.

The Andean country of 50 million people launched its vaccine drive in February and has so far administered 23.7 million complete vaccinations.

“It’s clear now that more than 70% coverage is needed and that the target should be to vaccinate 80%, or perhaps 85% of the population, to really reduce the risk of new peaks,” Ruiz told Reuters in an interview.

Colombia has 94 million vaccine doses, Ruiz said, which in theory will allow for all adults aged 18 and over to receive a booster shot.

The country has bought 77 million vaccine doses directly or via the World Health Organization’s Covax mechanism. It has received 15 million doses in donations from the United States, Spain and Germany, while the private sector has bought 2 million doses, Ruiz said.

Colombia has so far invested 4.5 trillion pesos ($1.14 billion) in its vaccine campaign against COVID-19, he added.

By January at the latest Colombia will have vaccinated 70% of its population, Ruiz said, adding it was difficult to say if Colombia has entered a fourth peak.

“If we hit (vaccination) coverage above 80%, we could soon have a chance to avoid a fourth wave. If we have coverage of 70% to 80%, we could see a fourth peak with the least number of deaths,” he said, though adding there can be no certainty another wave will not arrive.

Though he urged people to get the vaccine, Ruiz dismissed the idea of making them mandatory.

“Colombians have vaccines, what we need is that they get vaccinated,” he said, adding the campaign will continue until cases and deaths fall, and COVID-19 becomes endemic.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Diane Craft)

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