The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is expected to receive approximately 195 million doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines between March and June.
This will be for deployment to member countries joining the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, through which the provisions are being procured.
The amount will be from two billion doses for which the WHO has already secured agreements with manufacturers, through the Facility, for global distribution.
Among them is Pfizer Inc., the first entity issued with an emergency use licence for its vaccine by the WHO.
The COVAX Facility is designed to accelerate equitable access by countries globally to appropriate, safe and efficacious vaccines.
Speaking during PAHO’s COVID-19 digital briefing on Tuesday (January 19), PAHO Assistant Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, said delivery of the vaccines is expected to get underway in March when the first 20 million doses are expected to be received for deployment, thereby facilitating the targeted commencement of the vaccination programme roll-out in member countries.
Dr. Barbosa indicated that another 35 million doses are expected in April, 45 million in May, and approximately 95 million in June, noting that these are the latest estimates from COVAX.
“Through COVAX, what we want to start is a constant flow of delivery of vaccines, so that we can begin with the strategy of [vaccinating] priority groups of every country continuously, without suspending vaccination for any reason whatsoever,” he informed.
These groups, which would comprise approximately 20 per cent of each State’s population, include healthcare workers, among them those on the front line in the fight to suppress COVID-19; the elderly, and persons with pre-existing health conditions.
“Once we confirm the deliveries, we are going to know exactly which amounts we have for each country. Our expectations are to start vaccinating in March on a continuing basis for all of the countries of the Americas,” Dr. Barbosa added.
Meanwhile, PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, advised that agreements have been forged with AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India for the supply of licensed AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, as soon as these obtain WHO emergency use listing approval.
Additionally, she said PAHO’s Revolving Fund for Vaccines is helping member countries with the vaccine procurement process and inputs, including the acquisition of syringes, safety boxes, cold chain equipment, and other supplies “that allow vaccines to be safely delivered to every corner of our region”.