Washington DC., June 25, 2021 (PAHO) — Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, has praised the Government of the United States on the imminent delivery of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America in the coming days though the COVAX Facility. The PAHO Revolving Fund is facilitating these deliveries in close collaboration with recipient country governments.
“We are extremely grateful to the U.S. for this generous contribution that will surely make a difference in countries that are suffering extreme hardship due to continuing COVID-19 transmission and deaths,” said Dr. Etienne.
“Latin America and the Caribbean are the epicenter of this pandemic globally, and donations like these are the most effective path to get vaccines that are unavailable through the market to the arms of people that desperately need them now,” she added.
The first shipment of 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine is programmed to be delivered to Honduras this Sunday.
The PAHO Revolving Fund is working with the Governments of the U.S. and recipient countries, as well as the COVAX Facility, on logistics and other relevant aspects to ensure that these vaccines are received promptly, safely and are ready to be deployed as soon as possible.
Through the COVAX dose-sharing framework, countries can share vaccine doses with others that have been secured either via their self-financed COVAX allocations or through bilateral deals. This will help to increase vaccine coverage, ensure that no dose goes to waste, and help to bring an end to the acute phase of the pandemic. The design and operationalization of the COVAX dose sharing mechanism is being supported by a contribution of CAN$5 million from Canada.
“We are advocating for access to vaccine donations through COVAX and directly,” added Dr. Etienne. “Working with the COVAX Facility, governments, producers and other partners, we have been able to deliver more than 21 million doses to 31 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, but the reality is that we still face a glaring gap in access to vaccines”.
In addition to the U.S., the Director has also thanked the government of Spain for donating 5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for the region, as well as the government of Canada for its CAN$50 million commitment to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines in the region.
“We are hopeful that the generous donations and support by the U.S., Spain, Canada and other countries will be followed by other developed countries in the world, so that we can expand access to vaccines as soon as possible”, Dr Etienne emphasized.
Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are consistently reporting some of the highest case counts in cases and deaths around the world, with hospitals at their limit. Only just around 11% of the entire population of the Caribbean and Latin America combined have completed their vaccination schedule, with some countries still not being able to vaccinate more than 1% of their populations.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 1.2 million people have lost their lives and 37.2 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in Latin American and Caribbean countries.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the number of poor people in the region had grown to 209 million by the end of 2020 — at least 22 million more than in the previous year — representing an unprecedented rise in poverty levels.