Caricom concerned about inequitable access to vaccines for the regionFriday, February 26, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Caribbean Community (Caricom) says it is dissatisfied and deeply concerned about the inequitable access to vaccines for small developing states like those within the community.
It called for equitable access to vaccines in order to curb the impact of the pandemic, to protect citizens and bolster the economy. Noting that the virus does not discriminate, Caricom says the access to vaccines should not be discriminatory, with a few countries dominating the market with their resources and their volumes.
Heads of Government noted that to date, even countries with the funds to purchase, have been unable to procure and receive vaccines through commercial arrangements, given the relatively small volumes which they seek.
In addition, member states noted that although they have all signed on to the highly valued and appreciated COVAX Facility, the only vaccines received in the region to date were through the generosity of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, who has donated 170,000 vaccines to Barbados and Dominica through bi-lateral arrangements. The body commended Prime Minister Modi for his generosity, which it says will be continued. Caricom also thanked Barbados and Dominica for having shared their initial supplies, which were received from India.
Meanwhile, member states noted that while the COVAX Facility will provide up to 20 per cent of members' needs, this limited supply will not allow us to attain the regional herd immunity necessary to fuel the resilient recovery the region is seeking.
Heads of Government therefore called for a mechanism that allows smaller countries to have access to sufficient vaccines at the earliest juncture, “if action is to be put behind the oft-repeated phrase that 'no-one is safe until everyone is safe”.
The body said other initiatives, such as procurement through the African Union's African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), as well as bilateral arrangements, are being pursued by some member states.
It continued: “We urge developed countries, and especially those in our neighbourhood whose populations travel frequently to our region, and who host our largest diaspora populations, to make some available to the community, initially as an interim supply given the immediacy of the need. Caricom has taken a decision to write to the governments of some traditional partners on the matter.
“Attention is also needed at the multilateral level and to this end, the community has called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to convene a Global Summit to address urgently equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for developing countries, which should be held in the context of the World Health Organization's ACT-A Facilitation Council.”
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