(CMC) — Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa F Etienne on Wednesday called for increased supplies of COVID-19 vaccines for the Americas, noting that “millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean still don’t know when they will have a chance to be immunised”.
Speaking at her weekly media briefing, Dr Etienne said PAHO has urged nations with enough vaccines to share them with countries in the Americas that are still struggling.
“That call is starting to resonate,” she said.
“Dose donations are helping COVAX substantially expand the availability of vaccines in the next round, with some 60 million doses coming from the United States and over 11 million from Japan, contributing to the expected allocation of some 143 million doses.”
“While we must rely on donations in the short-term, we are already planning for a future scenario in which more supply will be available. PAHO is mapping the demand deficit from our member states to determine how the Revolving Fund can support countries to meet their future goals with COVID vaccines and other supplies, such as syringes and cold chain equipment,” Dr Etienne added.
The PAHO director said the 24 million doses of COVAX deployed in the region so far have been quickly put to use, and countries are eager for the additional allocations to ship as soon as supplies are available.
“Our countries know how to deploy vaccines and are ready. But they need more doses, and they need them now,” she said.
She noted that one in four people in the region “have been fully immunised and over 600 million doses have been administered in the Americas; however, over half of these doses have been applied in just one country, the United States”.
Chile and Uruguay have around 50 per cent of their population fully immunised and Canada has covered over 30 per cent, Dr Etienne noted, “but millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean still don’t know when they will have a chance to be immunised”.