Fri | Oct 15, 2021

CARICOM foreign ministers press for US delivery of Pfizer vaccines

Published:Wednesday | September 22, 2021 | 9:33 AM
The US delivered the first shipments of the donated Pfizer vaccines last August, with the second shipment planned for this month.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Foreign Ministers have impressed upon United States Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman the urgency for the delivery of the second tranche of donations of Pfizer vaccines from America.

The ministers and Sherman along with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Ambassador Brian Nichols held a virtual dialogue on Tuesday in the margins of the UN General Assembly.

The US delivered the first shipments of the donated Pfizer vaccines last August, with the second shipment planned for this month.

The foreign ministers, while expressing deep appreciation for the generosity of the US, underlined the importance of maintaining the schedule given the spike in COVID-19 infections in many member states.

A statement from CARICOM indicated that the ministers stressed the importance of vaccines to both the health and economic sectors of the region.

In her opening statement to the meeting, CARICOM Secretary-General Carla Barnett stated that the impact of COVID has been disproportionately large on “our small states, especially where tourism is the major source of economic activity.”

CARICOM ministers also took the opportunity to press the case for increased climate ambition and financing for adaptation as well as acceptance of the multidimensional vulnerability index as the main criterion for access to concessional development financing.

CARICOM said that there was also a strong emphasis on action being taken at the upcoming Climate Summit COP 26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, to scale up the ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that the global temperature rise be curtailed at 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

It was argued that failure to do so would imperil the existence of CARICOM member states.

A request was also made for a meeting with US Climate Envoy Secretary John Kerry.

The concern over the failure of developed countries to meet the commitment to provide US$100 billion a year by 2020 to assist developing countries to adapt to climate change was also pointed out.

The ministers emphasised that given the classification of most CARICOM states as high or middle-income countries, they could not access concessional development financing due to the use of GDP per capita as the main criterion.

This, they said, affected their ability to fund adaptation measures for climate change as well as the recovery process from the decimation of their economies due to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.

They underlined the importance of putting in place new models of financing and using more apt criterion based on vulnerability.

Both sides, underlining that a problem for one was a problem for all, expressed the importance of solidarity with regard to the difficult situation in Haiti and of its people.

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