Deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines are picking up speed across the Americas as more countries prepare for the imminent arrival of doses procured through COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable distribution of vaccines, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne reported today.
During her weekly media briefing, Dr. Etienne said that over the next few days, PAHO’s Revolving Fund will deliver 728,000 COVAX-procured COVID-19 vaccines to five regional countries. In total, PAHO has placed orders for more than 3.4 million doses, she said.
Fifteen Caribbean countries will receive just over 2.1 million doses of COVAX-procured vaccines by May, according to allocation figures provided for the first round of deliveries. “Next week, we expect that many countries in the Caribbean will start to see the first COVAX shipments arrive on their shores,” Dr. Etienne said.
A fourth vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, has been authorized by WHO, which issued an Emergency Use License (EUL) last week. COVAX has secured over 100 million doses of the vaccine for 2021 and up to 500 million through 2022, with doses expected to start arriving in July. The vaccine, which provides protection with a single dose, promises to accelerate vaccination efforts.
So far, 28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to Latin American and Caribbean populations while nearly 138 million doses have been provided throughout the Americas.
Dr. Etienne cautioned that countries must maintain public health measures – hand washing, social distancing, and mask wearing. Even people who have been vaccinated should adhere to the measures. “Stopping this pandemic will require both that we limit new infections and that we expand access to vaccines,” she said. “So, we must not let our guard down now. Let’s keep hope alive.”
Even as vaccines arrive, Dr. Etienne pointed out, COVID-19 is accelerating its spread in about half of the countries in the Americas.