Ecuador’s vaccination drive

Early vaccination progress suggests hope for Ecuador's economy but structural challenges remain.

The Ministry of Health of Ecuador announced on 30 August its intention to speed up the vaccination rollout process with the aim of vaccinating 9 million people, of a total 17 million population, in 100 days. At present, 7.9 million Ecuadoreans have already been vaccinated with at least one jab of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, CanSino or SinoVac.

A member of the political opposition in Ecuador managed some modest praise of the country’s response, “The vaccination programme, led by the Ministry of Health, has been administered excellently, but the health system has not yet been the subject of relevant government intervention. Announcements have been made about the integration of the entire health system, but a strategy is not yet in sight.”

“The vaccination programme, led by the Ministry of Health, has been administered excellently, but the health system has not yet been the subject of relevant government intervention.”

Member of the political opposition, Ecuador.

The initiative is seen as a measure to reactivate the Ecuadorean economy, severely impacted by the pandemic and the fall of oil prices, which led to a GDP 11% plunge in 2020. Furthermore, unemployment rate in Ecuador reached 68%. The speed up of the vaccination plan is also seen as a strategic political initiative of President Guillermo Lasso who recently marked his first 100 days in office and, in early August, had already launched the Phoenix vaccination plan (Plan Fénix), in which the government invested USD 628 million to distribute vaccines throughout the country. 

As the conversation turned to the economy, the member of the opposition became more critical, “Obviously a population less prone to contagion is better for the economy but the problem of job availability persists. The government, especially President Lasso, will be praised for the vaccination programme, but it will be temporary unless he can find a way to solve the real problems.”

“Obviously a population less prone to contagion is better for the economy but the problem of job availability persists.”

Member of the political opposition, Ecuador.

Lasso’s vaccination success has not spared him criticism from multiple sectors due to the increase of the cost of living and cuts in the education budget. During his three months in office, there have been demonstrations in Ecuador’s major cities demanding the repeal of the decree that established a fixed price for petrol and the end of the IMF restructuring plan. 

The United Nations Development Programme (“UNDP”) post-disaster needs assessment index for March-May 2020 showed that Ecuador registered losses of USD 6.42 billion, 6% of the country’s 2019 GDP. The UNDP also showed that the pandemic severely impacted indigenous populations, which saw the largest increase in deaths in the country. According to our sources, the vaccine is being distributed equitably across the country and across different social groups.

The opposition politician saw some significant challenges ahead of the government, “They face three main challenges: Firstly, inoculating 90% of the entire population before 2023, without increasing public debt. Secondly, obtaining the license and capability to manufacture vaccines locally and finally, to ensure that immunised people maintain social distancing measures.”

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