Twenty-eight countries in America have benefited from three million vaccines through the COVAX mechanism since March, but Carissa F Etienne, Director of the Pan American Institute of Health, said supplies are still well below her coverage need to protect vulnerable groups.
COVAX’s target for the Americas is to provide enough vaccines for about 100 million people by the end of 2021, with each country receiving enough vaccines to immunize about 20 percent of their populations.
In a recent press briefing, Dr Etienne noted that “Due to the global restrictions on vaccine manufacturing, it has been difficult for our region to access the vaccines we need to immunize our populations. Vaccine production for approved COVID-19 vaccines needs to increase worldwide because none of us will be safe until everyone is safe. ”
PAHO said in a statement that current progress is far from reaching the coverage necessary to protect the most vulnerable groups, measuring about 20 percent of the population, to reduce the high mortality in the region.
As a result, the Director has called for immunization in America, which has the highest burden of cases and deaths, to become a global priority.
Countries began receiving COVAX deliveries on March 1, aimed at ensuring fair and equitable access to the 36 participating countries in the Americas. These include 26 self-financing countries and 10 countries supported through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment mechanism – of which Guyana is a beneficiary.
The introduction of COVAX vaccines, a historic milestone, was the culmination of months of discussions and collaboration between the Health Ministries, PAHO, and other partners. The PAHO Revolutionary Fund, designated by COVAX, has been working to procure vaccines on behalf of the American nations.
Worldwide, 674 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, including about 36 million doses that shipped COVAX to 86 participating countries.
“Our aim at the moment is to get vaccine equity and distribute as many vaccines to as many people as possible … Vaccines are not yet the main method of slowing down COVID-19 transmission. We must maintain and adapt our public and social health measures in all countries, ”Dr Etienne stressed.
Forty-nine countries and territories in the Americas have introduced COVID-19 vaccines and given more than 210 million doses, according to PAHO figures. The 210 million includes COVAX supplies and vaccines acquired through bilateral deals made individually by countries with pharmaceutical companies.
Among the vaccines that Guyana has received are 3000 doses of AstraZeneca, which came from Barbados, and another 80,000 doses of the same injection were from India. China also provided 20,000 doses of its locally manufactured Sinopharm vaccine. Guyana also received 25,000 from the UAE.
Last month, the COVAX facility shipped 24,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to Guyana.
On April 3, Guyana received 25,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine as part of the 200,000 doses purchased by the Government up to US $ 4 million. Guyana has given 5000 doses of vaccines back to Barbados.
To date, the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine has given over 52,000 first doses of the vaccines.