Govt must meet unspecified standard conditions to receive tranche of doses
Bahamas has among the lowest vaccination rates in the Caribbean
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas could receive an additional tranche of COVID-19 vaccines in a direct arrangement with the United States following high-level meetings between CARICOM representatives and the White House, Eyewitness News can confirm.
The direct arrangement would be separate from the contingent of doses being delivered to Caribbean countries via the Caribbean Public Health Agency based in Barbados.
According to sources close to the matter, White House representatives, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Sidney Collie and several other Caribbean representatives met on Monday in Washington.
While the number of doses and vaccine brand was being finalized, sources advised that The Bahamas would have to meet some standard conditions for the tranche of doses.
These conditions were not made clear.
The US donated 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines doses to Haiti last week — the first tranche of vaccines for the nation, which has recorded fewer than 20,000 cases, though experts estimated cases to be undercounted due to low testing rates.
The Bahamas, with an estimated 400,000 people, has recorded well over 13,000 cases and 275 deaths, with high double-digit cases being recorded daily in recent weeks.
While the government’s vaccination program continues via appointment only, the shortage of vaccine supplies led the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee to stop accepting new vaccine appointments until next week.
When contacted and asked whether The Bahamas will get a direct donation from the US outside of the COVAX program, Collie said he had received a report from the US and it appeared the “ball was moving in the right direction”.
He said he was unable to speak beyond that.
The Bahamas is also expected to receive the remainder of its balance of vaccines from the World Health Organization’s COVAX Facility by the end of this month, and more than 500,000 doses of Pfizer.
The US has continued to ship vaccines in a direct arrangement outside the COVAX program as part of the Biden administration’s support for global vaccine sharing to help distribute vaccines to poorer nations.
Last month, the Biden administration pledged 80 million doses would be set aside for allocation worldwide, in addition to a commitment to donate $2 billion to COVAX.
The Bahamas has administered around 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, with nearly 40,000 being fully vaccinated.
Those fully inoculated make up around nine percent of The Bahamas’ population.
According to data gleaned from Caribbean countries and compiled by MJS & Associates and Mitsy Ellis-Simpson, The Bahamas ranks 31 out of 34 Caribbean countries, based on the percentage of its population that has been vaccinated.
Haiti is ranked last, with zero percent of its population vaccinated as of July 16.
Jamaica came in at 33 on the list, with only six percent of its population vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Bonaire, Cayman Island and Saba have ranked the top three vaccinated countries, with 75.1 percent, 74.6 percent and 71.8 percent vaccinated respectively.
Turks and Caicos was ranked fourth with 67.2 percent of its population vaccinated.
While addressing the media on Monday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis assured the government was aggressively pursuing additional vaccines to vaccinate more of the populous and again urged the public to become inoculated against the virus amid concerns of variant strains and an uptick in hospitalizations and COVID deaths.