by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): “Since the start of the pandemic, more than 98 million people in the Americas have developed COVID-19, and more than 2.3 million people in our region have lost their lives to this virus. More than a third of all COVID cases and one in four COVID deaths reported worldwide have occurred here in the Americas,” reported Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan-American Health Organisation, as she reflected on the last two years of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“And when we compare 2020 to 2021, this year was undoubtedly worse. We saw triple the number of COVID infections and deaths in this second year of the pandemic than we did in 2020. Hospitals were stretched thin, vital medicines and supplies ran low, and our health systems were put to the test like never before.”
In the Caribbean, except for a few countries, the infection rate of the virus is low.
“Trinidad and Tobago reached its highest weekly COVID case count, and cases rose by 66 percent in St. Lucia over the last week. Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands reported the highest weekly COVID incidence rate of any country or territory in the Americas.”
However, with the Omicron variant spreading in European countries and the US, the director urged that we not lower our guard.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, as of Friday, December 17, there are eight active cases of COVID-19, and 75 percent of the adult population have received two doses of the vaccine.
While Latin America and the Caribbean has over 50 percent of the population vaccinated, Dr. Etienne expressed her disappointment with the rollout of vaccines in the region.
“Although [the] rollout of vaccines has not been as rapid as we would have liked or as evenly distributed, today 56 percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, thanks to the efforts of countries and the support of donors. Some countries in our region like Chile, Cuba, Uruguay and Canada have some of the highest vaccine coverage in the world. And yet, millions of people in our region have yet to receive a single dose. Vaccine inequity continues to divide our region, and if we don’t address these glaring gaps, we’ll fail to bring this virus under control.”
In the last briefing by PAHO for the year, the Director expressed gratitude to all the collaborators for procuring the necessary tools to combat the COVID-19 virus and said PAHO would step into the new year with renewed energy to defeat COVID-19.