by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): “COVID-19 has shown that it knows no boundaries, so if we are going to beat COVID, we need to do it together,” reads a release from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The OECS is calling on the US to partner with them in fighting the Coronavirus Pandemic in ensuring that the region becomes fully vaccinated against the disease.
The statement continued, “While we have been able to manage the pandemic in the OECS with case fatality rates and cases per population rates lower than the global average, we continue to be disproportionately affected by the economic fallout of COVID, due to our highly tourism-dependent economies.”
Another way the region has been affected is the inequitable distribution of vaccines globally.
In the United States, 60 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the OECS is reporting that in the Eastern Caribbean only 22 percent of the eligible population have received the first dose. The main cause, the availability of vaccines.
Without access to vaccines necessary to reach populations the OECS says “it is difficult to be able to facilitate entry and exit requirements that facilitate the ability of the U.S. government to assist in an emergency, including COVID-19 related restrictions on entry by U.S. and other foreign nationals.”
Affecting timely distribution of humanitarian aid.
St Vincent and the Grenadines continue to experience volcanic activity at La Soufrière volcano, and the Caribbean is a month away from another upcoming and reportedly uncertain hurricane season, the ability to deal with COVID-19 will be mutually impacted.
The statement from the OECS suggests that the U.S has the power to “easily cover the region’s populations with the surpluses of vaccines that for now are not even being used within the US.”
Additionally, the Eastern Caribbean and Southern coasts of the U.S are economically tied through the tourism industries.
The statement also pointed out that although the region and the southern US are tied through tourism the recent travel advisory update for Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is especially concerning.
Specifically citing St. Lucia’s CDC travel advisory level which increased from three to four despite cases reportedly on the decline and testing has increased (the main criteria used for assessment by the CDC).