In a warehouse near Bogota’s airport, behind a heavy cold storage door, sit boxes upon boxes of lifesaving vaccines for everything from yellow fever to polio, awaiting transport to the furthest reaches of Colombia.
The tall shelves, kept at a chill 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), are half-empty – leaving plenty of room for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.
Colombia surpassed 1 million infections on Saturday afternoon, becoming the eighth country globally to do so, tallying 1,007,711 confirmed infections and 30,000 deaths.
As scientists around the world race to find a coronavirus inoculation, Colombia says it is ready to distribute any vaccine which proves effective.
Its preparedness is thanks to decades of work on a free government immunization program which offers 21 vaccines to everyone in the South American nation – among the region’s most generous for vaccine provision.
“We have a really strong vaccination program that serves as a model and which will incorporate the new formula that will arrive against COVID,” Gerardo Burgos, secretary general of the health ministry, told Reuters.