Costa Rica receives the first COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility

Esteban Vega, Gerente de Logística de la CCSS; Alejandra Acuña; Viceministra de Salud, Patricia Portela, Representante de UNICEF en CR; María Dolores Pérez, Representante de OPS en CR y Wilmer Marquiño, Asesor en Vigilancia de la Salud, Prevención y Control de Enfermedades de OPS en CR

San José, 7 April 2021 (PAHO/WHO) – On Wednesday, 7 April, Costa Rica received 43,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility, a joint global effort by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

This represents a historic step in ensuring the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. This delivery is the first of a total 218,400 doses that Costa Rica will be receiving in the first round of shipments, out of a total of approximately two million doses to be delivered this year.

Dr. Wilmer Marquiño y Dra. María Dolores Pérez
Dr. Wilmer Marquiño y Dra. María Dolores Pérez

PAHO's Revolving Fund for Vaccine Procurement, a joint procurement mechanism responsible for purchasing COVID-19 vaccines for the countries of the Americas under the COVAX Facility, sent an initial 43,200 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by SK Bioscience of South Korea, and will coordinate the staged delivery of the remaining vaccines over the course of 2021.

Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada emphasized that the arrival of the vaccine, through a multilateral mechanism such as COVAX, makes it possible to intensify even further the country’s vaccination campaign. He also noted that this represents a fundamental step toward economic recovery.

"With the arrival of this first delivery of the vaccine from the COVAX Facility, Costa Rica strengthens its ability to continue vaccinating the population. With this first installment coinciding with World Health Day, on 7 April, what better way could there be to celebrate health than to help protect more people from COVID-19. Vaccines, in conjunction with the public health measures already familiar to everyone, can help contain the spread of Covid-19, protect health services, and save lives," said María Dolores Pérez, PAHO/WHO Representative in Costa Rica.

Primera entrega de vacunas del mecanismo Covax a CR
Primera entrega de vacunas del mecanismo Covax a CR

During 2021, COVAX plans to provide vaccines for at least 20% of the population of each participating country worldwide. In this first round of vaccine allocations, all COVAX participating countries will receive doses to vaccinate between 2.2% and 2.6% of their populations. The only exceptions are small island developing States, which, due to their size, will receive doses for between 16% and 20% of their populations, given the high logistical cost of delivering small quantities of vaccines.

 “In this global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that the vaccine reach the most socially and economically vulnerable populations. COVAX is designed to meet this goal, ensuring that no one is left behind. That is why we are supporting Costa Rica in strengthening its immunization efforts, in order to address the major effects of the pandemic on the country's children,” said Patricia Portela de Souza, UNICEF Representative in Costa Rica.

 “The only way to beat the pandemic is to make vaccines available and affordable for everyone. Governments, pharmaceutical companies, and multilateral organizations must work together to ensure the right to health for all people equally,” said Allegra Maria del Pilar Baiocchi, UN Resident Coordinator.

PAHO/WHO has stated that until vaccination is widespread in the population, basic public health protocols and measures remain the foundation of the pandemic response. For public health authorities, this means continued screening, diagnostic testing, contact tracing, isolation of infected people, assisted quarantine, and quality care. And for individuals, it means continuing to practice physical distancing, hand hygiene, use of masks, ventilation of spaces, cleaning of surfaces, maintaining social bubbles, and avoiding crowds.