28.7 million doses of COVID vaccines to be delivered by May says PAHO
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, says 28.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines are slated for delivery to member countries through to May under the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility.
Speaking during PAHO’s COVID-19 digital briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Etienne said regional countries participating in COVAX and their global counterparts were each informed, via the Facility, of the number of doses they will receive over the period.
She noted that some countries have already made preparations for the vaccines’ arrival, adding that PAHO is placing orders “and readying several COVAX deliveries in our region… with shipments likely to arrive in mid-March”.
The Director pointed out, however, that a few countries still need to approve the COVAX contracts, ensuring they have the proper regulations in place, and make their payments.
“This can be a complicated process, as some countries will need to sign new legislation to meet these COVAX requirements. We urge our member states to make this a priority, so they can receive these long-awaited doses,” she said.
Dr. Etienne noted that throughout the pandemic, countries globally have grappled with shortages of essential medical supplies like medicines, diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment and oxygen, adding that “we face the same challenge with vaccines”.
She said manufacturers are “working around the clock” to produce more doses, and new vaccine candidates are being reviewed and included in the WHO Emergency Use Listing, “so more vaccines will, hopefully, be available soon”.
“As more doses are produced, we’ll see several waves of shipments arriving in the region every month,” the Director noted.
Pointing out that, in the interim, doses “will remain limited”, Dr. Etienne emphasised that these must be used wisely and, in the process, prioritise persons deemed most at risk.
These, she said, include health workers, the elderly and people living with pre-existing conditions.
“PAHO is committed to ensuring that our region receives the doses we need as quickly as possible. In the meantime, our member states are [largely] ready to roll out these vaccines and PAHO stands by for any support they need,” Dr. Etienne added.
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