The COVAX Facility has announced its final allocation of COVID-19 vaccines for Barbados and countries in the Eastern Caribbean that will see them receiving a proportion of 16 to 20 per cent of their population coverage by the end of March.
According to PAHO, following the approval for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for Emergency Use List (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO),100, 800 doses of the vaccine will be delivered to Barbados; 74,400 doses to St. Lucia; 40,800 doses to Antigua and Barbuda; 21,600 doses to Saint Kitts and Nevis; 45,600 doses to Grenada; 28,800 doses to Dominica; and 45,600 doses to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
In a statement on Saturday, PAHO said that its Revolving Fund for Vaccines (RFV) will procure and deliver the COVAX vaccines to the countries in the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados.
“PAHO is working with its Member Countries to close the purchase orders and to expedite administrative, regulatory, and logistics procedures to scale up vaccinations in the region. The countries will start receiving their first vaccines through COVAX in March if all the conditions are met. Countries received the letters from COVAX informing about the volumes they will receive until May from the first producer that met the EUL authorization from WHO and finalized the commercial agreement with COVAX.”
The PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean countries, Dr Yitades Gebre, stated that, “the priority of the first phase of vaccination is to save lives. We will achieve this by vaccinating the most exposed groups — like the health professionals, and the most vulnerable groups to developing severe COVID-19 illness.”
COVAX is financially supporting access to vaccines for the four Eastern Caribbean countries of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which probably would have to wait many months to get vaccines if the facility did not exist.
Dr Gebre further stated that “the vaccines will not have an important impact on virus transmission itself in the next months. To achieve herd immunity, we will need to vaccinate at least 70% of the population.” While we are vaccinating the most vulnerable and reducing mortality, we need to keep all public health measures that can reduce the transmission: the use of masks, physical distancing, avoiding closed and crowded spaces.
COVAX – the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.