The outgoing Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) says resources to obtain more vaccines for the region is a priority.
Dr. Ralph Gonsalves made the observation in an end of year statement.
The Saint Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister said CARICOM looks forward to receiving its share of vaccines through the COVAX Facility, an initiative to guarantee equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
But Gonsalves explained that the quota for the region will only cover 15 percent of the population.
“Resources to obtain more vaccines is a priority,” the outgoing CARICOM Chairman asserted.
“We therefore cannot let our guard down. We must maintain the discipline to ward off the worst effects of the virus,’ he urged.
He disclosed that the criterion of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was applied to the financing instrument for the COVAX Facility as the basis to determine which countries get access to vaccines on a concessional basis.
However Gonsalves expressed the view that there is urgent need to change the criteria for access to the Facility and for overall concessional financing.
“That is why the Community is advocating strongly for the development and use of a Universal Vulnerability Index as the main criterion to determine access to such funding,” he recalled.
He observed that due to the CIVID-19 pandemic, the overall economies of CARICOM countries have been hard hit, particularly those directly and indirectly dependent on the tourism, travel and entertainment sectors.
“The global spread of COVID-19 was propelled by travel, and the curtailment of that activity has acutely affected the Caribbean, which is the world’s most tourism and travel dependent Region,” the outgoing CARICOM Chairman stated.
“Still, at Christmas 2020 we are thankful for all the blessings and mercies bestowed upon us,” Gonsalves declared.
He paid tribute to the hard-working scientists, medical staff and front-line workers who have done yeoman service to their fellow citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Praise also goes to the Pan-American Health Organization and the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) for their role in assisting the Community to combat this pandemic, along with a number of friendly countries,” Gonsalves stated.