In spite of its declarations last month on the need for equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has expressed its disappointment that small developing members are still left waiting for a chance to get their supply.
In its latest missive, CARICOM said that even countries with the funds to purchase the vaccines have been unable to procure and receive same through commercial arrangements, given the relatively small volumes which they seek. In fact, Member States told the regional body that although they have all signed onto the highly valued and appreciated COVAX Facility, the only vaccines received in the region to date were through the generosity of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, who has donated 170,000 vaccines to Barbados and Dominica through bi-lateral arrangements.
On this note, CARICOM commended Prime Minister Modi for his generosity, which it is understood, will be continued. It also thanked Barbados and Dominica for having shared their initial supplies which were received from India.
Even as it is grateful for the foregoing, the regional body stressed that access is still needed to the COVAX Facility which is expected to provide up to 20 percent of Members’ needs. The body stressed that this limited supply will allow members to attain the regional herd immunity which is so necessary to fuel the resilient recovery that is being sought.
On that note, CARICOM said, “Heads of Government therefore call for a mechanism that allows smaller countries to have access to sufficient vaccines at the earliest juncture, if action is to be put behind the oft-repeated phrase that no-one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Guyana Standard understands that other initiatives, such as procurement through the African Union’s African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), as well as bilateral arrangements, are being pursued by some Member States with the support of CARICOM. In this regard, CARICOM expressed its thanks to the government of the Republic of South Africa and the African Union, for having carved out an allocation for CARICOM countries.
At the same time, it was noted that attention is needed at the multilateral level and to this end, the Community has called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to convene a Global Summit to address urgently equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for developing countries, which should be held in the context of the World Health Organization’s ACT-A Facilitation Council.