Tue | Oct 20, 2020

C’bean countries line up for safe COVID-19 vaccines

Published:Saturday | October 17, 2020 | 12:13 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Vaccine
Vaccine

Jamaica is among six Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) member states which have been provided with the full down payment required for the COVAX Facility.

The COVAX Facility is designed to accelerate equitable access by countries globally to appropriate, safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines.

CARPHA, with funding from the European Union (EU), has entered into an agreement with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), as an implementing partner to support the participation of member states.

Executive director of CARPHA, Dr Joy St John, told a virtual media briefing yesterday that, as deaths from COVID-19 surpass one million worldwide, with more than 4,000 reported in 33 territories of the Caribbean, the growing need for a vaccine to prevent illness and death has become painfully evident.

“There has been the transfer of US$2,028,233, which represents approximately €1.8 million, coming from the pot of money of €3 million in the grant. We have been able to support Antigua, Barbados, BVI, Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos Islands with 100 per cent of the down payment required for the COVAX Facility,” she explained.

St John added that CARPHA has also supported Suriname with 18 per cent of the deposit.

This, she noted, will allow each country to access a volume of vaccines to inoculate at least 20 per cent of their population.

St John said access to the COVID-19 vaccine will be granted after “safe and thorough clinical trials”.

PAHO Assistant Director Dr Jarbas Barbosa said there are nearly 200 vaccine candidates that are being studied, with 10 in the third and final phase of clinical trials, and it is hoped that one or more will prove to be safe and effective.

“Global equitable access to a vaccine, one that protects healthcare workers, front-line workers and those most at risk, is the best way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic,” Barbosa said.

Meanwhile, EU Head of Cooperation Luis Maia said the grant will cover more than one million doses of the vaccine.

He said COVID-19 has caused a pandemic which undermines all the sustainable development goals and, for that reason, the EU’s solidarity must prevail.

“This should contribute to moving the countries in the region into a position where the virus no longer negatively affects the health system, the economy or the everyday life of its citizens,” the cooperation head told journalists.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com