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A new initiative will bring more vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean.

A new initiative will bring more vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean.
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A new initiative will bring more vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean.

A new initiative will bring more vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Pan American Health Organization plans to distribute millions of coronavirus vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean starting this fall, an initiative that amounts to a tacit recognition that the United Nations-backed Covax program will not be close to providing the vaccines that the developing world needs.

The organization, which is part of the World Health Organization, intends to purchase “tens of millions” of vaccine doses and start delivering them in October, its director, Dr. Carissa Etienne.

“This is an initiative that will benefit all countries in the region, but especially those who do not have the resources and the negotiating power to secure the doses they need to protect their populations,” said Dr Etienne.

So far, more than 20 countries have expressed interest in joining the program, she said. The latest data indicates that around 20% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully immune to Covid-19, with some countries reporting vaccination rates below 5%.

Covax remains far from its original goal of vaccinating at least 20% of the population of the world’s poorest countries, but even that would not be enough to control the transmission of the virus, especially as the highly contagious Delta variant begins to circulate. In the region.

Dr Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, said that to bring the virus under control, “countries need to go beyond 20% and it is not clear whether Covax will offer more vaccines after these. 20% “. He said negotiations to obtain the vaccines had started with the producers.

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Officials did not provide details on how the organization would succeed where Covax failed, but said the organization had decades of experience in purchasing and distributing vaccines on behalf of countries of the region. Countries will have to pay for the vaccines, while Covax has mainly distributed them free to the poorest countries.

“There is no road to recovery for any country as long as its neighbors remain vulnerable and variants circulate and multiply,” said Dr Etienne. “We must banish the idea that vaccine inequity is the problem of some countries and not others.”

Covid cases and deaths are on the rise in Central America and the Caribbean while “trends are more promising in South America”, where there has been an overall decline in cases and deaths, Dr Etienne said .

“There is clear evidence that wherever vaccines are available they limit serious disease and save lives,” she said. “And that’s why improving access to vaccines remains our top priority. The disparity between who can access vaccines and who cannot is unacceptable. “

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