(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – The deployment of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines in countries across the Americas under the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility is anticipated to get under way by the end of March.
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr Carissa Etienne, made the disclosure during a digital media briefing on Wednesday.
An initial two billion vaccine doses have already been secured from Pfizer Inc under COVAX for distribution globally in 2021, with another 1.3 billion programmed for 2022.
The two billion doses are expected to cover the first phase of the vaccination rollout targeting 20 per cent of beneficiary countries’ vulnerable populations, including healthcare workers, people with underlying conditions, and the elderly.
Pfizer is also expected to provide one million vaccines to be used in some regional countries under a proposed pilot arrangement in February.
Dr Etienne said the COVAX Facility will provide access to a basket of 15 vaccines, noting that the Pfizer vaccine is the only one already prequalified by the WHO.
Pfizer was issued with a licence to facilitate emergency use of the vaccine, which has already been distributed in a number of countries globally.
Dr Etienne further pointed out that there are more than 100 additional vaccine candidates in the COVAX Facility pipeline.
“We are not sure that all of them are going to be approved, but it is encouraging to see that so many vaccines are in development. With one vaccine approved for use by the WHO and more on the way, we are moving closer to controlling this pandemic,” she added.