Coronavirus vaccine reaches Antarctica

A healthcare worker administers a dose of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine at a care center in Antarctica, Chile, on March 14, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

SANTIAGO (AFP) - The coronavirus vaccine has reached Antarctica after Chile immunised 49 people on the continent, the South American country's air force said on Wednesday (March 17).

Chile's immunisation programme has received many plaudits as authorities have managed to give five million people - almost a third of the population - at least one vaccine dose.

And on Sunday, it even started immunising members of the armed forces and scientific researchers stationed at the Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva air base in Antarctica, with a further 53 people at the base set to receive their first dose in the coming days.

None of those vaccinated, all aged between 25 and 58, "have shown any allergic reaction of any type," Dr Victor Videla, the doctor in charge of the immunisation programme, told AFP.

People stationed at two other Chilean bases in Antarctica are due to receive their first doses, but those were delayed by adverse weather conditions, Dr Videla said.

Antarctica was one of the last places on Earth to be affected by the virus, but on Dec 21, an outbreak was reported at a Chilean army base, with 36 people infected.

To protect the continent, all tourist visits to Antarctica were cancelled, unessential personnel were evacuated and contact between the 40 international bases in the area was prohibited.

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