PAHO Director welcomes US Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine-sharing plan

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne has thanked the United States Government for its commitment to a COVID-19 vaccine dose-sharing plan through COVAX.

“The actions announced today by the White House are a good step forward in our drive to get vaccines into the arms of our people in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Dr. Etienne said last week. “We are grateful for this dose-sharing initiative and encourage other countries with surplus vaccines to follow the lead of the United States.”

The U.S. said it plans to send the first tranche of 25 million doses, including 19 million procured through COVAX, to countries around the world. This includes “Approximately 6 million for South and Central America to the following countries: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, as well as the Dominican Republic,” the White House statement specified.

It also said, “The United States will share vaccines in our region and across our borders. We first made doses available to our closest neighbors – Canada and Mexico. Our dose-sharing approach prioritizes Latin American and the Caribbean on a per capita basis.”

The PAHO Director noted that “effective vaccines are a beacon of hope in this crisis, and we must do all in our power to secure more doses for all nations in the Americas. Regional solidarity, including the donation of vaccine doses, will be key to get us through the current shortage of supply.”

“This pandemic is far from over, and it is hitting Latin America and the Caribbean severely, affecting our health, our economies, and entire societies. Yet only about 8% of our citizens have been vaccinated,” Dr. Etienne said. “The region is an epicenter for COVID-19 suffering. It should be an epicenter for vaccination, too.”

“Our most urgent need continues to be additional vaccines, and as we thank the United States, I also want to repeat our call for other donations of vaccines to the countries of the Americas, which have a high epidemiological burden and not enough vaccines to reach a high proportion of their populations,” she added.

So far, COVAX has delivered some 18.9 million doses of vaccines to 31 countries in the Americas. PAHO and its Revolving Fund are working with governments, producers, and other partners to ensure more vaccines can reach Latin America and the Caribbean, where these life-saving doses are urgently needed.

Meanwhile, calls continue to go out to people in the region to get vaccinated.

Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine has made a special appeal for vaccine adherence in the region while delivering remarks at the 5th Growth and Resilience Dialogue recently.

According to Antoine, the vaccines are the tools to fight and beat this pandemic.

“The decision to receive a Covid-19 vaccine is one’s personal choice. Regrettably, there has been misinformation resulting in hesitancy by some to take the vaccines,” he said. “Today I cease this opportunity to make a special appeal to everyone to seriously consider and consent to take the vaccine.”

He continued, “We often say of this pandemic we are all in the same boat, but frankly spoken, we are not, The real truth is that we are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.”

Antoine said many people are still employed, “but consider for example the 80,000 persons in the ECCU who depend on tourism for direct employment who are now without work, without money and without certainty about their livelihoods and their future – same storm, different boat.”

The ECCB official commended the frontline workers and health authorities for doing a remarkable job in the fight against Covid-19.

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