Concern That Access To COVID-19 Vaccine In Caribbean Not Equitable

(CMC) — Expressing concern that regional states may not have equal access to COVID-19 vaccines, Caricom has called for a global summit to address the matter.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Caricom said it was “deeply concerned at the current prospect of inequitable access to vaccines . . . especially for frontline workers and vulnerable populations”, as the world grapples with the challenge of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reality is that small states will find it difficult to compete in the marketplace to ensure equitable access for vaccines,” it said.

“Given the transmissibility of the virus, all countries are vulnerable and should work together. The Caribbean Community therefore calls for a global summit in the context of the World Health Organization’s ACT-A Facilitation Council to discuss equitable access and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.”

Caricom added that the inextricable link economically, socially, and by virtue of travel with neighbours and the wider international community, makes it imperative for member states to be afforded access to vaccines as a matter of urgent priority.

“This action will be mutually beneficial in breaking the transmission of the virus. Notwithstanding that appeal, the community will explore all available options to access vaccines in order to protect its population from the ravages of the pandemic,” it added.

As of January 9, there were 43 vaccines being developed across the world that are in phase one trials. Twenty are in phase two and another 20 are in phase three trials. Seven vaccines are in early or limited use in countries and three are fully approved for use.

The British overseas territories of Bermuda and the Cayman Islands have already received shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the United Kingdom and have started vaccination programmes.

Meantime, Caricom nations which joined the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX Facility) as part of their strategic approach to access safe vaccines, are awaiting shipments anticipated to arrive in the first half of 2021.