What’s behind the Dominican Republic’s new surge in Covid-19 cases?

Strolling outdoors the Dr. Marcelino Vélez Santana Regional Hospital in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital, de la Nuez instructed CNN he is nonetheless in shock.

“My spouse contracted Covid-19 10 days in the past. She had a excessive fever. She additionally had very extreme muscle pains which triggered her to have contractions. Our child lady died. After we went to get a sonogram, it was already too late,” he stated.

His spouse continues to be recovering within the hospital’s intensive care unit. The de la Nuez household is one in every of many coping with yet one more wave of infections on this Caribbean nation of practically 11 million. Final week on the similar hospital, 17 of 18 beds within the ICU have been occupied and there was just one ventilator left.

Till lately, the Dominican Republican gave the impression to be heading towards normality. September noticed a report variety of vacationers go to the Caribbean nation, and greater than 2 million college students within the public schooling system returned to in-person courses for the primary time in additional than a 12 months. On October 11, the nation’s nationwide state of emergency was lifted.

However was it too quickly?

Simply as college students returned to courses, Covid-19 circumstances started trending upward, information printed by Johns Hopkins College (JHU) reveals.

Lower than two weeks later, Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan-American Well being Group (PAHO), introduced that whereas the Covid-19 pattern in most of Latin America and the Caribbean was downward, new circumstances had elevated by over 40% within the Dominican Republic.

New variants, faculties and vaccination charges

Dr. Jorge Marte, director of the Middle for Analysis, Superior Drugs and Telemedicine (CEDIMAT), one of many predominant hospitals in Santo Domingo, factors to the unfold of recent variants and the reopening of faculties as important elements within the nation’s surging case numbers.

The nation’s public well being ministry rapidly sought to wrest management of the brand new unfold, announcing on Oct 8 new precautionary measures requiring individuals aged 13 and older to indicate a vaccination card or adverse PCR take a look at in an effort to entry public locations, like faculties and workplaces. Proof of vaccination would even be required for entrance to eating places, gyms and public transportation.

However these measures might solely go up to now, based on Marte, who says that regardless of the introduction of booster pictures, the nation’s total vaccination marketing campaign has been inadequate.

Lower than 50% of the entire Dominican inhabitants has been absolutely vaccinated, based on JHU. The federal government had aimed to vaccinate 70% of the nation’s eligible inhabitants with not less than two doses.

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“We’ve but to vaccinate the inhabitants goal we set for ourselves,” says Marte, who additionally serves as a presidential well being adviser.

Dominican Well being Minister Daniel Rivera has described the virus’ resurgence as a disaster of the unvaccinated, who’re taxing well being sources and occupying ICU beds.

“Out of the final 31 individuals who died, 29 of them weren’t vaccinated in any respect. And the one one who was vaccinated and died was a 68-year-old affected person,” Rivera stated throughout a press convention final week.

Dr. Indira Jiménez, who’s in command of the Covid-19 unit at Francisco Moscoso Cuello Hospital, instructed CNN that 90% of the contaminated sufferers arriving at her hospital have been unvaccinated or had solely acquired one shot.

“There was a really noticeable improve within the variety of contaminated sufferers. Those that are being admitted within the intensive care unit are coming to us already in essential situation,” Jiménez stated. On Friday, there have been no out there ventilators in her hospital in any respect.

Demise charges are nonetheless far decrease than within the earlier days of the pandemic, nevertheless. Eighteen individuals died of Covid-19 the final week, in comparison with 165 deaths within the first week of February — the height for Covid-19 fatalities within the Dominican Republic up to now.

Lately Marte says he has additionally seen a brand new consider Covid-19 hospitalizations.

He says Sinovac alone, one of many vaccines the Dominican Republic relied upon closely, didn’t ship the outcomes well being authorities have been anticipating, although conclusive research are nonetheless pending. The nation has launched booster pictures to amp up safety, however these haven’t but turn out to be widespread, with only 1.2 million recipients so far.

The truth is, the Dominican Republic was the primary nation in Latin America to approve booster pictures, beginning with its well being care employees in July. It was not the one nation within the area to begin supplementing its Sinovac marketing campaign nevertheless.

After yet one more devastating wave of infections, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera introduced in early August that those that had acquired two doses of the Sinovac vaccine have been eligible to get a booster shot from both AstraZeneca or Pfizer, beginning with the aged. And Uruguay’s well being ministry made a similar decision, opting to offer Pfizer booster pictures to residents who had acquired two doses of the Chinese language-made vaccine.
What's the best booster to get? And other questions about Covid-19 boosters

“What I can let you know with very goal information is that there is an unlimited distinction between those that have acquired two Sinovac doses versus those who’ve added a Pfizer booster shot to these two Sinovac pictures,” Marte stated.

“In the entire nation there’s not a single particular person who has acquired a Pfizer booster shot and ended up hospitalized.”

Marte additionally stated that out of 17,000 Covid-19 sufferers seen at his hospital, solely 5 contracted the virus after getting the Pfizer booster shot. One was an 86-year-old affected person, and one other was a 78-year-old affected by diabetes and most cancers. None of these 5 finally required admittance, he stated.

Reporting contributed by Jessica Hasbun in Santo Domingo, Rafael Romo in Mexico Metropolis, and Valentina DiDonato in Atlanta.

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