Countries in the Americas pool efforts to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine

Washington, D.C., July 14, 2020 (PAHO) — Countries in the Americas are pooling their efforts to ensure access to treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa F. Etienne, said today.

Acting as a bloc, PAHO member states will benefit from our technical expertise, as well as our decades of experience securing and distributing vaccines quickly and efficiently. We will also ensure the process is as inclusive as possible by allocating doses fairly among those countries participating.”

Dr. Etienne said that the PAHO Revolving Fund for vaccines can be used as a strategic asset to buy and distribute vaccines for COVID-19 when they become available. Some 20 of the 150 current vaccine candidates are already being tested on volunteers.

PAHO is also involved in the WHO COVAX facility, a group effort to negotiate with vaccine producers, and it is supporting Latin American and Caribbean countries to join a collaboration to accelerate the development, production and distribution of future COVID-19 vaccines. Under WHO’s Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, the COVAX Facility will negotiate on behalf of many countries worldwide with the producers of all promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

“We already have 30 countries and territories joining the facility through PAHO’s Revolving Fund, and we are excited to see more expressions of interest from our Member States in the coming days. The more countries that join, the stronger we will be.”

“This will enable countries – regardless of income level – to secure better prices and assume less risk than if they negotiate individually. No country should do this alone—especially since we improve our chances of success and reduce competition if we work together,” noting that some 20 of the 150 current vaccine candidates are already being tested on volunteers, the PAHO director said,

“PAHO is also coordinating with GAVI and other partners to guarantee that the most vulnerable countries in our region receive the vaccine against COVID 19 subsidized and at an affordable price,” Dr. Etienne said.

The PAHO Revolving Fund, a shared mechanism for purchasing and delivering vaccines, has worked for 35 years to pool resources for 41 countries, which can buy high-quality, life-saving vaccines for their national immunization programs at lower prices, and has been vital in eliminating polio, measles, mumps and rubella from the Americas, she said.

Update on COVID-19 in the Americas

In a recap of the COVID-19 situation in the Americas, Dr. Etienne said, “As of July 13, we have reached 6.8 million cases and 288,000 deaths across the region of the Americas. This equates to roughly half of all cases and deaths reported around the world. In the past week, our region has reported 60% of all new cases and 64% of all new deaths in the world.” The past week has broken records as regional hotspots, like the U.S., reported their highest-ever daily case counts.

”The number of people dying of COVID-19 is also climbing, particularly in Brazil, Mexico and the United States, reporting 77% of all the deaths over the last week and currently experiencing some of the deadliest outbreaks in the world,” Dr. Etienne said.

“This virus has redefined how we perceive time. In a few short months, it has transformed our way of life, our region and our economies. We must look ahead to plan how we will select, manufacture, pay for and distribute a vaccine. We need to improve our regulatory capacities on immunization, build vaccine post marketing surveillance, boost vaccination programs, and improve or adapt our cold chain facilities,” she added.