Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa F. Etienne Wednesday called for increased supplies of COVID-19 vaccines for the Americas, noting that millions in Latin America and the Caribbean still don’t know when they will have a chance to be immunised.
Etienne told reporters at her weekly media briefing that some countries in South and Central America, where the pandemic has hit particularly hard, have not yet been able to access enough doses to fully vaccinate 3% of their populations.
And she recalled that PAHO has urged nations with enough vaccines to share them with countries in the Americas that are still struggling.
“That call is starting to resonate,” the PAHO Director declared.
“Dose donations are helping COVAX substantially expand the availability of vaccines in the next round, with some 60 million doses coming from the United States and over 11 million from Japan, contributing to the expected allocation of some 143 million doses,” Etienne disclosed.
“While we must rely on donations in the short-term, we are already planning for a future scenario in which more supply will be available,” she stated.
In this regard, Etienne said PAHO is mapping the demand deficit from its member states to determine how the Revolving Fund can support countries to meet their future goals with COVID vaccines and other supplies, such as syringes and cold chain equipment.
According to Etienne, the 24 million doses of COVAX deployed in the Region so far have been quickly put to use.
She said countries are eager for the additional allocations to ship as soon as supplies are available.
“Our countries know how to deploy vaccines and are ready. But they need more doses, and they need them now,” Etienne noted.
She observed that one in four people in the region have been fully immunized and over 600 million doses have been administered in the Americas.
However, Etienne disclosed that over half of these doses have been applied in just one country, the United States.