QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador will administer a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine to people with weak immune systems and will carry out tests to determine if the rest of the inoculated population also needs a booster, Health Minister Ximena Garzon said on Tuesday.
The government of President Guillermo Lasso is using Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac shots as part of a broad vaccination plan that it hopes will spur an economy that has been struggling for years and was hit hard by the pandemic.
“At an international level, it has already been shown that people who have some type of immunodeficiency will need a third dose,” Garzon told reporters.
“We will apply it, three months after the second dose, to people who meet certain parameters of immune disorders.”
Official data shows that as of Sunday, Ecuador has vaccinated 4.8 million people with two doses and almost 10 million with one dose.
Garzon said that the government completes its initial vaccination plan, health officials will carry out research to determine if a booster should be used in the broader population.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday began to use the single-dose vaccine developed by the China’s CanSino Biologics Inc in hard-to-reach areas and in prisons.
“We are already seeing … decreases in the percentage (of hospital bed occupancy),” Garzon said.
Ecuador has reported about 500,000 infections and around 31,900 deaths confirmed or likely COVID-19 deaths.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)