Asunción, 19 March 2021 (PAHO/WHO/UNICEF) - Paraguay today received 36,000 doses of AstraZeneca Bioscience COVID-19 vaccines, produced in the Republic of Korea, through the COVAX Mechanism, a global effort involving the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The arrival of these vaccines in the country marks an important step towards the goal of guaranteeing equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, through the COVAX Mechanism. New shipments of vaccines are scheduled in the coming weeks, and it is expected that by the end of May, all 304,800 doses that are part of the first-round allocation of AstraZeneca vaccines to Paraguay under COVAX will have arrived.
These vaccines will be used to protect priority groups and those most at risk, such as health workers and older adults. While vaccination efforts continue, it is important to maintain the prevention methods that have been shown to be most effective.
“Until vaccination is widespread in the population, basic public health measures will remain the cornerstone of pandemic response. For the public health authorities, this means continued diagnostic testing, contact tracing, isolation, assisted quarantine, and quality care. For individuals, it means continuing to practice social distancing, hand hygiene, correct use of masks, ventilation of closed spaces, and crowd avoidance,” said Dr. Luis Roberto Escoto, the PAHO/WHO Representative in Paraguay, paraphrasing Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director of PAHO.
“The arrival of these vaccines to Paraguay is a crucial step in our COVID-19 response, especially due to the difficult health situation in the country at this time,” said Dr. Rafael Obregón, the UNICEF Representative in Paraguay. “UNICEF will continue to support vaccination efforts and the promotion of preventive measures in the country to control the pandemic and thus facilitate eventually getting back to normal, including the protection of children and a safe return to school”.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by CEPI, Gavi, and WHO, working in partnership with UNICEF, as well as civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. In 2021, COVAX aims to provide vaccines for at least 20 per cent of the population in each participating country worldwide.
The PAHO Revolving Fund has participated in the development of the COVAX Mechanism from the beginning, and is its agent for vaccine negotiations and procurement for countries in the Region of the Americas.
For more than 40 years, the PAHO Revolving Fund has helped countries of the Region to protect their populations against some of diseases that cause the most death and disability in the world, including polio, measles, yellow fever, rotavirus, and human papillomavirus. The countries of the Americas acquire their vaccines through this solidarity-based cooperation mechanism, which consolidates procurement of vaccines, syringes, and other supplies used in vaccination.