Guatemala: As COVID misinformation spreads, vaccine doses expire

Colombian food vendor William Abella had been counting on the Qatar World Cup 2022 as an opportunity to offset his losses from long COVID-19 lockdowns.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When the national team plays, his small corner shop and snack bar in central Bogota usually turns into a sea of yellow. Football fans wearing the team’s official shirt gather to drink and chat, lifting beer sales by up to 80 percent.

Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala – On a recent afternoon, the COVID-19 vaccination centre in the heart of the Indigenous Mayan town of Santiago Atitlan was quiet. The health centre had a vaccine supply, but demand was low.

The lack of coordination of a Guatemalan government-led campaign to overcome vaccine hesitancy has resulted in the expiration of millions of doses across the country this year, critics have said, as more than half of the population remains unvaccinated.

ut like many small traders in footballing countries that unexpectedly failed to qualify, his hopes for bumper business from fans cheering on their side have been dashed.

“With Colombia out of the World Cup, I’m expecting my beer sales to decrease by about half,” said 65-year-old Abella.

The World Cup, which kicks off in November, is big business, generating billions of dollars in consumer spending in tourism, food and drink, merchandise and more.

But as businesses across the world gear up to cash in, developing countries known for their football prowess – yet which failed to qualify – are counting their losses.

From street vendors in Colombia to shopkeepers in Algeria and owners of football viewing halls in Nigeria, small businesses and informal workers who rely on cash-in-hand earnings during football matches fear a big decline in income.

In north Bogota, street vendor Roberto Teyes sold and traded stickers for the Panini football album during the last World Cup, hosted by Russia in 2018.

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