The vaccine arrived in Panama in the early hours of Jan 20th. Unfortunately only 12,840 doses were delivered instead of the 40,000 that were ordered, but as soon as they arrived MINSA (health department) started vaccinating front line health care workers, and distributing vaccine to the various provinces so their front line health care workers could be protected.
The article also mentions a more virulent strain of the virus in the UK and South Africa. Now, any arrivals from those countries are automatically quarantined for five days and then tested. One person infected with this strain was identified and continued in quarantine until he was no longer infectious, which prevented this strain from getting out into the general population. The Gorgas Memorial Institute is also testing random samples to track any mutated forms of the virus that may be in the country.
The first person vaccinated was Violeta Edith Gaona de Cocherán, a nurse for 37 years who is working in an ICU in Panama City. She was chosen for this honor because of her many years of service and dedication, and her current work with ICU COVID patients.
In general virus news, the number of new cases in Panama has been dropping. The number of people hospitalized lags behind because it takes a while before people recover enough to leave the hospital, but there seems to be some progress here as well. We are definitely not out of the woods yet but there are hopeful signs. We continue to get daily communications from the president, the health department and other authorities, and daily reminders to be diligent with infection control measures.
Panama is waiting for news from Pfizer about a delivery date for more vaccines. When the rest of this order is filled, they can complete phase 1 of their plans and look forward to phase 2. (A New Year – a post about the phases) So, progress isn’t as fast as they planned but it will happen. I don’t know if Moderna vaccines or others that are becoming available are also being considered.
The general feel in the world seems to be that we will get through this before the end of the year, and in six months things should be much better as people get immunized and as the virus has less people to infect.
Right now though, it feels like this has been going on FOREVER! We are all so tired of it. So many have suffered in so many ways, and so many have died. Let’s all keep hope in our minds and look forward, and continue to take good care of ourselves and each other.