COVID-19 in Latin America

How can Latin America recover from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Members event, Panel
23 February 2022 — 6:00PM TO 7:00PM
Chatham House and Online

In Latin America, strained and underfunded health systems, deep social inequalities, increasing poverty and slow vaccination rollouts have led to a surge in COVID-19 related deaths. Latin America has only 5% of the world’s population, but accounts for almost a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths. Colombia reached 100,000 deaths just as the government lifted some of its last restrictions. The inadequate response to the virus led to waves of protests. Brazil has a death rate of 600,000– the second highest in the world and Peru has the highest number of deaths per capita globally.

Yet there is cause for optimism, the region is slowly emerging from devastating waves of infections by driving mass inoculation campaigns. Brazil, formerly the epicentre of the global outbreak has now vaccinated 64% of its population and nearly 65% of South Americans have been fully vaccinated compared with 62% in Europe and the US. While most countries provide the AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, Argentina purchased Russia’s Sputnik V. Despite criticism, the vaccination effort has been effective. However, the new year and the arrival of the Omicron variant brought with it a new surge in Coronavirus cases although governments are less worried about its impact on healthcare systems and are relaxing restrictions.

In this event, experts from the region discuss the pandemic in Latin America as it enters its third year:

  • Why has Latin America been the region hardest hit by the pandemic?

  • What has the COVID-19 pandemic shown about the coverage, efficacy and responsiveness of Latin American health care systems?

  • What were the struggles and successes of governments’ access to vaccines?

  • How are various governments responding to the latest surge of infections caused by the Omicron variant?

  • Will the COVID-19 crisis catalyse a new wave of universal health reforms in Latin America?

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