by Staff Writer
St. Kitts-Nevis (WINN) – PAHO’s Revolving Fund will deliver 728,000 COVAX-procured COVID-19 vaccines to five regional countries. In total, PAHO has placed orders for more than 3.4 million doses, according to the Director-General of the Pan American Health Organisation, Dr. Clarissa Etienne.
During her weekly media briefing, Dr. Etienne said that over the next few days, PAHO’s Revolving Fund will deliver the COVAX-procured COVID-19 vaccines to five regional countries.
“Next week, we expect that many countries in the Caribbean will start to see the first COVAX shipments arrive on their shores,” Dr. Etienne said.
Fifteen Caribbean countries will receive just over 2.1 million doses of COVAX-procured vaccines by May, according to allocation figures provided for the first round of deliveries.
The upcoming shipments to five nations follow the delivery of 400,000 doses of COVAX-procured vaccines to regional countries, including Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Jamaica. Colombia received COVAX-procured doses through a pilot program earlier this month.
COVAX is a global effort between the Coalition for the Promotion of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Gavi Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and the World Health Organization (WHO), working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner. Thirty-six countries in the Americas are participating in COVAX.
A fourth vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been authorized by WHO, which issued an Emergency Use License (EUL) last week. COVAX has secured over 100 million doses of the vaccine for 2021 and up to 500 million through 2022, with doses expected to start arriving in July.
Dr. Etienne cautioned that countries must maintain public health measures – hand washing, social distancing, and mask-wearing. Even people who have been vaccinated should adhere to the measures. “Stopping this pandemic will require both that we limit new infections and that we expand access to vaccines,” she said. “So, we must not let our guard down now. Let’s keep hope alive.”
Even as vaccines arrive, Dr. Etienne pointed out, COVID-19 is accelerating its spread in about half of the countries in the Americas.
The number of cases is rising in many South American countries, including Uruguay, Ecuador, and Venezuela