CELAC supports Caricom's call for global vaccine summit

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has secured the support of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for its call for a global summit to address urgently the issue of equitable access and distribution of vaccines to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Caricom Chairman Dr Keith Rowley, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, had written in January to director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, urging him to convene, at the earliest possible opportunity, a global summit to address urgently equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for developing countries. The call was repeated by Caricom heads of government following their intersessional meeting late last month.

A CELAC statement, issued by Mexico as the President Pro Tempore of the group, expressed concern over the lack of delivery of vaccines to the small island developing states (SIDS) of the region.

“We are convinced that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of maintaining a strong, united and caring Latin American and Caribbean region, where no country is excluded from universal, fair, equitable and timely access to medicines, vaccines and medical supplies,” it said.

“Therefore, Mexico joins the call made by the Caribbean Community to hold a global summit within the framework of the World Health Organization to address the urgent equitable access to said vaccines.”

CECLAC said it supported the COVAX mechanism — a global effort between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the WHO to provide vaccines for at least 20 per cent of the population of each participating country during 2021.

However, it added that it was essential to strengthen technical assistance to the least favoured countries and facilitate the affordability of financial instruments so that they can access vaccines against COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

Likewise, it said, multilateral initiatives must be implemented to enable these countries, including SIDS, to cope with the current situation and achieve rapid economic recovery.

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