“Nearly 2.3 million COVAX doses will arrive in at least seven countries in our region in the next days and weeks”
WASHINGTON, DC — Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F Etienne welcomed the expansion of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the Americas and reported that PAHO is working closely with member countries to “accelerate access” throughout the region.
The Bahamas has received its first COVID-19 vaccines, due to the Indian government’s donation of 20,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, Dr Etienne noted during her weekly media briefing.
Peru is scheduled to receive its first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine today through COVAX, the global mechanism to ensure equitable access to vaccines, regardless of countries’ incomes or the size of their economies.
On March 1, Colombia became the first regional country to receive vaccines through COVAX.
Etienne said: “Today, these doses are being delivered to at-risk groups, including indigenous communities in the country’s Amazon region.”
The PAHO director reported on upcoming arrivals of COVAX-procured vaccines.
“Thanks to our collective efforts, nearly 2.3 million COVAX doses will arrive in at least seven countries in our region in the next days and weeks,” she said.
The countries include Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica and Nicaragua as well as Peru.
Thirty-six countries in the Americas are receiving vaccines through COVAX.
Referring to the PAHO mechanism that many regional countries are using to procure vaccines, Etienne continued: “Over the last week, our Revolving Fund has been working closely with member states to accelerate access to COVID vaccines.”
She added: “The challenge now is to continue to accelerate deliveries to those countries that have not yet received COVAX doses to ensure that all countries receive their initial installments of vaccines this month.
“PAHO is doing its part to help countries secure and deliver vaccines safely and as quickly as possible, but manufacturing limitations, low supply and high demand for vaccines make this an uncertain situation.
“We must be patient, but we are being persistent in our pursuit of these vaccines. In the meantime, we need everyone to collaborate as we work to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.”
Etienne provided an update on the pandemic’s impact in the Americas, noting that while Brazil struggles with resurgence, the US, Canada and Mexico continue to report declining cases.
She said across Central America, countries are reporting declining infection; and in the Caribbean, cases are declining on larger islands, although infection is rising in Cuba, The Bahamas, Saint Lucia and Guadeloupe.