St. Vincent and the Grenadines receives the first COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility

COVAX vaccines in VCT

Bridgetown, Barbados, 7 April 2021 (PAHO / WHO) - St. Vincent and the Grenadines today received 24,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility, a global effort between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The arrival marks a historic step toward ensuring the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, in the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. This delivery is part of the first phase of deliveries for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and more vaccines are expected to arrive successively during 2021. According to the first round of COVAX allocations, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is expected to continue receiving doses through May until it reaches 45,600, the amount specified by COVAX.

PAHO's Revolving Fund, which is responsible for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for the countries of the Americas under the COVAX Mechanism, sent 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, manufactured by SK Bioscience of South Korea. The vaccines arrived today at the Argyle International Airport.

Seeing this arrival is very reassuring and it means that more people will be able to be protected from COVID-19, "said Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO / WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries." We will continue to work with the country to support vaccination along with the entire package of known public health and social measures that we know can help stop the spread of COVID-19, protect health services, and save lives. "

The arrival of these first vaccines will serve to protect priority groups and those most at risk, such as health workers and older adults. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of ten countries in the Americas that are receiving vaccines at no cost through the COVAX Mechanism's Advance market commitment (AMC).

The Hon. St. Clair Prince, Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment said, “We believe as do most experts in the field that vaccination is the best hope of ending the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, government has always been trying to procure vaccines from all sources possible to ensure that Vincentians have access to this very vital item. ” 

Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in March 2020, the country has recorded 1,766 cases and 10 deaths as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“The UN welcomes the first delivery of COVID-19 vaccine to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, under the COVAX facility, since it brings countries one step closer to fully protecting their most vulnerable. We have learned the hard way that this virus has no borders, and our goal is to leave no country behind through universal access to vaccines. The only way that we can save lives, and ultimately end this crisis, is by ensuring that all countries are able to offer vaccinations to their whole population. The COVAX mechanism is a tangible reflection of this goal, made possible thanks to the solidarity of the international community. We are truly grateful to our many partners for their support, ”said UN Resident Coordinator, Didier Trebucq.

“The arrival of these vaccines provides a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, which has been battering essential services that secure the education and protection of our children. UNICEF will continue to support the communication campaign which seeks to drive adult vaccination as an important step towards controlling the pandemic, so that we can begin to reimagine a better, safer and healthier future for everyone, especially children, young people and their families, ” said UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area, Dr Aloys Kamuragiye.

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

Until vaccination is widespread among the population, basic public health measures remain the basis of the pandemic response. For public health authorities, this means continuing to conduct screening, contact tracing, isolation, assisted quarantine, and quality care. And for people, it means continuing to practice physical distancing, hand hygiene, the use of masks, adequate ventilation of indoor environments, and avoidance of crowded spaces.

COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) - working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, as well as civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. In the Americas, the PAHO Revolving Fund is the recognized procurement agent for the COVAX facility.

From left - PAHO\WHO Country Program Specialist in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mrs. Nicole Slack-Liburd, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mr. Cuthbert Knights and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache
From left - Assistant to PAHO/WHO Country Program Specialist, Ms. Amina Williams and PAHO/WHO Country Program Specialist, Mrs. Nicole Slack-Liburd



In Barbados:

PAHO - Brenda Lashley |
UNRCO - Carol Gaskin |
UNICEF - Patrick Knight |

At PAHO Headquarters:

Sebastian Oliel
Daniel Epstein
Nancy Nusser