JIS News

Jamaica is among 36 Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) member countries which have been notified about estimated doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines they could be receiving under the first phase of delivery, beginning in February.

The countries are participants in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility.

Approximately 35.3 million doses are expected to arrive in the Americas for the initial phase of the overall deployment exercise, programmed to run between February and June.

A PAHO communiqué, issued on Sunday (January 31), indicated that correspondence, in the form of letters, to this effect was conveyed to each of the states, which are situated in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

They include 10 other CARICOM countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Monserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Other countries and territories in and around the Caribbean that are also slated to benefit are: Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

According to PAHO, the AstraZeneca vaccine is still under review by the WHO for emergency use approval, noting that this exercise is expected to be advanced over the “next few days.”

The entity’s statement indicated that the number of doses and delivery schedule remain subject to emergency use approval and manufacturing capacity, as well as the establishment of supply agreements between the producers, and PAHO and UNICEF, which are designated to procure and deploy vaccines under COVAX.

PAHO’s Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, described the impending commencement of vaccine delivery through the Facility as a “hopeful step” in the fight against COVID-19.

“With more than 45 million confirmed cases and more than one million deaths, countries and territories throughout the Americas, particularly the poorest among them, are experiencing an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis. PAHO is proud to facilitate an effort that is urgently needed for our region,” she said

The Americas region will need to immunise approximately 500 million people to control the pandemic.

The goal is to provide vaccines for at least 20 per cent of the population in each COVAX country participant to protect those most at risk for severe forms of COVID-19.

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