Saturday, August 13, 2022

COVID-19: Increasing Vaccine Access A Priority For PAHO

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The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, says  although cases of COVID-19 are surging in some areas, there is clear evidence that wherever vaccines are available, they limit severe illness and save lives.

“And that is why increasing access to vaccines remains our top priority – It is not just for some countries, but for all countries,” Etienne said at her weekly press briefing.

“More than 6 months after the first doses arrived in our region, the disparity in who can access vaccines and who cannot is unacceptable. Fewer than 20% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully immunized, and in some countries that number is less than 5%,” she explained.

According to the PAHO Director,  this disparity is dangerous as there is no path to recovery for any country while its neighbors remain vulnerable, and while variants circulate and multiply.

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“We must banish the idea that vaccine inequity is the problem of some countries and not others, and instead we need to work together to find solutions for all countries. And we must do it quickly – because lives hang in the balance,” Etienne observed.

She noted that  the Region of the Americas has a legacy of strong immunization programs and strong immunization coverages.

Etienne told the reporters that  historically, the Americas have enjoyed high rates of vaccine coverage throughout its Member States, regardless of their income or infrastructure.

“Perhaps most importantly, countries in the Americas have access to the PAHO Revolving Fund, which is an integral part of our technical cooperation package consolidating country vaccines demand from 41 Member States and territories, to leverage more affordable pricing and ensure the availability of high-quality vaccines to reach every corner of our region,” Etienne asserted.

In this regard, she revealed that the Revolving Fund is now receiving requests from countries in the region for COVID-19 vaccines for the last three months of 2021 and for the calendar year 2022.

Etienne said that  so far, more than 20 countries have formally expressed interest and the number is growing by the day.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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