International Clearing House Needed For COVID Vaccines — Barbados PM

(CMC) — Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Thursday that there is a need to create an international clearinghouse for the purchase and sale of COVID-19 vaccines.

Virtually addressing the 13th International Economic Forum on Latin America and the Caribbean, Mottley said: “It cannot be that countries that are here have to be the victim of middlemen, in circumstances where global pharmaceutical companies are saying they only deal with countries. But in reality, they have dealt with…very few of the small countries, but have had small countries having to deal with middlemen, who are selling the vaccines at a premium….

“The presence of that international vaccine clearinghouse and the presence of a global summit on COVID-19 will allow us to coordinate our actions, both in terms of restrictors, even 16 months later, and it will allow us to be able to fight the race against variants.”

Mottley said over 500,000 people in Latin America and the Caribbean had died from the virus in the last 16 months and millions of people worldwide had been impacted by it.

She pointed out that the world came together in 1945 to solve problems of that time, and suggested that a similar approach should be taken now.

“Can we not seek to put a pause and to bring global leadership and coordination to the issues of how we contain COVID within our borders, how we allow movement, how we deal with the issue of vaccine equity, and…how we can bring the world back to a point where we can resume growth, but growth that is green, that is resilient, and that is inclusive?” she asked.

The prime minister expressed the view that if global, moral, strategic leadership was in place, then countries would not be fighting at many levels, as currently obtained.

She said there was a need for a more universal, automatic, debt standstill arrangement that captured the public and private sector debt. The Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), she stated, was timely when announced last year and a welcomed measure, but was way too limited.

Mottley recommended the universal adoption by borrowers and lenders, including international financial institutions, of natural disaster and pandemic clauses in lending arrangements.

“If we can do this for natural disaster clauses and for pandemics, we provide certainty to both the lender and the borrower in a way that is not there today…. If we accept that disaster clause or the pandemic clause, it will provide 100 times the liquidity of the DSSI and quicker, and I ask us to seriously consider these issues as we work to reform the international financial architecture, in circumstances where it has not been the subject of serious reform,” she informed.

The prime minister noted that Barbados had been seriously impacted by the recent ash fall from the volcanic eruption in St Vincent, and it had to carry the costs of that natural disaster.