The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, citing increasing cases of COVID-19 in the Caribbean and elsewhere, has asserted that today, ‘vaccines are a beacon of hope’ to control the pandemic.
But she said at her weekly press briefing that vaccines remain out of reach for far too many people in the Americas, with just 18% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean having been fully vaccinated against the virus.
Etienne noted that COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the Caribbean, where Cuba, Martinique and the British Virgin Islands are continuing to see an increase in new cases.
At the same time, she disclosed that cases are dropping across South America, although some Brazilian states have seen an increase in infections.
“This underscores the fact that, until we effectively contain transmission, infections can surge quickly. So masks, social distancing and other public health measures remain crucial,” the PAHO Director stated.
She told the weekly press briefing about marking a grim pandemic milestone this week – over two million people in the Americas having died from COVID-19 complications, roughly the population of Houston, Texas.
“This loss hangs heavy in our hearts and it is a distressing reminder that we must act urgently to prevent further suffering,” Etienne declared.