Argentina and the UK host a virtual seminar on access to vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean addressing the portfolio of emerging vaccines against Covid-19, the challenge of equitable distribution and how best to tackle vaccine disinformation.
On 14 December 2020, Argentina’s Health Minister, Ginés González García and the UK’s Minister of State for the Americas, Wendy Morton MP opened the virtual seminar “Vaccine profiles, distribution challenges and countering vaccine disinformation in Latin America and the Caribbean”. The event brought together senior officials and medical experts from across the region to discuss efforts to bring the Covid-19 pandemic to an end and how best to make sure that everyone has access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Representatives from 25 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, and 11 nations from other regions joined leaders from the Caribbean Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance and other organisations.
Dr Seth Berkley, Gavi CEO, updated attendees on the rapid progress of the COVAX Facility – the global initiative working with governments and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that all countries, no matter their economic circumstances, will have fair and equitable access to vaccines. Both Argentina and the UK back the COVAX Facility and its work to pool the international community’s collective resources, to share and mitigate risks, and to expedite vaccine development and manufacturing. The vast majority of countries in the Caribbean region have now signed up to the COVAX Facility.
The seminar reviewed the emerging portfolio of Covid-19 vaccine candidates and the importance of a diverse range of safe and effective vaccines to enable distribution and delivery at the scale required to end the acute phase of the pandemic. The challenge is global so the answer will not lie with one successful vaccine or one single country; a wide range of vaccines supported by COVAX is needed to take into account the many different country contexts and to make sure that diverse population groups can be reached as quickly and effectively as possible.
Participants addressed the urgent need for investment in specialised distribution infrastructure for the mass vaccination effort, both in the short and long-term, to ensure that we have the structural resilience in place to tackle Covid-19 and future health emergencies.
The event looked at efforts to counter disinformation and vaccine hesitancy. These factors risk prolonging the crisis by stopping people taking up Covid-19 vaccines. Transparency, openness and proactive and positive communications are key to overcome vaccine hesitancy and combat disinformation.
This UK-Argentina seminar is the third in a series of joint events with the Caribbean and Latin America.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister Wendy Morton, representing the UK, said:
“I am delighted that the UK is hosting this event with Argentina, a key partner in the global and regional response to Covid-19 playing a vital role in vaccines development and manufacturing in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The UK is committed to ensuring a truly global response to Covid-19, both through events like today’s and through our investment in the world’s multilateral response, including the COVAX Facility. We are proud backers of COVAX as the best mechanism to deliver a truly global response to the pandemic and to realise our goal of equitable access to safe and effective vaccines for all.”
Argentina’s Health Minister, Ginés González García said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis, it is a human crisis that has revealed, as never before, the vulnerabilities of health systems around the world. However, it provides a unique opportunity to rethink more equitable, inclusive and sustainable societies”.