Saint John’s, Antigua, 18 November 2021 [PAHO] — Antigua & Barbuda today received 19,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine donated by Spain via the COVAX Mechanism, a global initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to vaccines against the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Including this delivery, the country has received 60,000 doses of vaccines via COVAX, 19,200 of which were provided by Spain, with support from the government of Canada, which will help protect more people against COVID-19.
“This donation will help increase access to vaccines in Antigua and Barbuda and will support national efforts towards ensuring that the country can achieve its vaccination goals by all possible means. PAHO very much welcomes the solidarity of Spain,” said Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries.
The vaccines arrived at V. C. Bird International Airport on 18 November 2021 and were officially handed over during a short ceremony held on 19 November 2021. In attendance were the Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Hon. Sir Molwyn Joseph, Honorary Vice-Consul Spain, Ms. Margarita Fernandez Lores, Representative for Canada’s High Commission, Mr. Roy Bento, as well as other officials from the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment including Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Teri-Ann Joseph and Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Mr. Alfred Athill. Administrative Assistant in the PAHO/WHO Antigua and Barbuda country office, Ms. Rhea Ireland also attended the ceremony.
Minister Joseph thanked the government of Spain for the donation, noting that the fight against Covid-19 requires solidarity. He also revealed that until then, the country had only a small stock of Astra Zeneca vaccines available, which was projected to run out by the end of the month. Even though Antigua and Barbuda has recovered from its most recent third spike that saw active cases peak to 1,110 by October 3rd, 2021, and deaths to 108 as of November 20th, 2021, and with now over 54,000 citizens fully vaccinated, Minister Joseph warned: “The Covid war is still on, and we are yet to vaccinate thousands of Antiguans and Barbudans.”
The PAHO Revolving Fund and the PAHO/WHO office in Barbados worked with the Spanish government, Canadian Government, Antigua and Barbuda’s government, and the COVAX Facility, to ensure the swift and safe arrival of the vaccines, and to make sure that shots get into the arms of those who need them the most.
Last August, in line with the commitment announced by President Pedro Sánchez during the Ibero-American Summit in Andorra, Spain began donating 7.5 million vaccines to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean via the COVAX Mechanism. In total, Spain pledged to donate 22.5 million vaccines globally, as well as US$122 million to expand vaccination coverage against COVID-19 in 92 countries that receive vaccines as part of the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
As well as supporting the arrival of the vaccines through its Revolving Fund, PAHO has has provided technical cooperation to the country in the design and implementation of vaccination programs, training health care workers to carry out COVID-19 vaccination, ensuring the cold chain, and other technical aspects necessary for an effective vaccination campaign.
To date, over 70 million doses of vaccine against COVID-19 have been delivered to 33 countries in the region via COVAX. Even so, just 28% of the total population of Latin America and the Caribbean has completed their vaccination as of the first week of September 2021, so more vaccines are needed for the countries of the western hemisphere.
PAHO is also utilizing its Revolving Fund to purchase vaccines for the organization’s Member States, and the first doses are expected to be available in the last quarter of this year and in 2022.
# # #
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. This is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable Access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside UNICEF, vaccine producers, the World Bank and others.
About the PAHO Revolving Fund:
For more than 40 years, PAHO’s Revolving Fund has provided Access to safe and quality vaccines at affordable prices for 42 Member States and Territories throughout the region. It supports countries’ efforts to achieve sustainable and equitable national immunization programs. In the context of the pandemic, it supports countries in the preparation of all aspects of receiving COVID-19 vaccines via COVAX. PAHO coordinates international logistics to transport these vaccines safely and in the shortest time possible. It also offers its Member States a new opportunity to access COVID-19 vaccines through its Revolving Fund.
Canada’s support is offered under a collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization aimed at improving health and protection from COVID-19 for populations in situations of vulnerability in Latin America and the Caribbean. By supporting countries in expanding their vaccine delivery and strengthening their capacity for immunization programs against the virus, Canada and PAHO are helping countries in their efforts to leave no one behind.