C’bean coun­tries line up for safe COVID-19 vac­cines

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ju­dana Mur­phy/Gleaner Writer ju­dana.mur­phy@glean­erjm.com

JA­MAICA IS among six Caribbean Pub­lic Health Agency (CARPHA) mem­ber states which have been pro­vided with the full down pay­ment re­quired for the COVAX Fa­cil­ity.

The COVAX Fa­cil­ity is de­signed to ac­cel­er­ate eq­ui­table ac­cess by coun­tries glob­ally to ap­pro­pri­ate, safe and ef­fi­ca­cious COVID-19 vac­cines.

CARPHA, with fund­ing from the Euro­pean Union (EU), has en­tered into an agree­ment with the Pan Amer­i­can Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (PAHO), as an im­ple­ment­ing part­ner to sup­port the par­tic­i­pa­tion of mem­ber states.

Ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of CARPHA, Dr Joy St John, told a vir­tual me­dia brief­ing yes­ter­day that, as deaths from COVID-19 sur­pass one mil­lion world­wide, with more than 4,000 re­ported in 33 ter­ri­to­ries of the Caribbean, the grow­ing need for a vac­cine to pre­vent ill­ness and death has be­come painfully ev­i­dent.

“There has been the trans­fer of US$2,028,233, which rep­re­sents ap­prox­i­mately €1.8 mil­lion, com­ing from the pot of money of €3 mil­lion in the grant. We have been able to sup­port An­tigua, Barbados, BVI, Cay­man Is­lands, Ja­maica and Turks and Caicos Is­lands with 100 per cent of the down pay­ment re­quired for the COVAX Fa­cil­ity,” she ex­plained.

St John added that CARPHA has also sup­ported Suri­name with 18 per cent of the de­posit.

This, she noted, will al­low each coun­try to ac­cess a vol­ume of vac­cines to in­oc­u­late at least 20 per cent of their pop­u­la­tion.

St John said ac­cess to the COVID-19 vac­cine will be granted af­ter “safe and thor­ough clin­i­cal tri­als”.

PAHO As­sis­tant Direc­tor Dr Jar­bas Bar­bosa said there are nearly 200 vac­cine can­di­dates that are be­ing stud­ied, with 10 in the third and fi­nal phase of clin­i­cal tri­als, and it is hoped that one or more will prove to be safe and ef­fec­tive.

“Global eq­ui­table ac­cess to a vac­cine, one that pro­tects health­care work­ers, front-line work­ers and those most at risk, is the best way to mit­i­gate the pub­lic health and eco­nomic im­pact of the pan­demic,” Bar­bosa said.

Mean­while, EU Head of Co­op­er­a­tion Luis Maia said the grant will cover more than one mil­lion doses of the vac­cine.

He said COVID-19 has caused a pan­demic which un­der­mines all the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals and, for that rea­son, the EU’s sol­i­dar­ity must pre­vail.

“This should con­trib­ute to mov­ing the coun­tries in the re­gion into a po­si­tion where the virus no longer neg­a­tively af­fects the health sys­tem, the econ­omy or the ev­ery­day life of its ci­ti­zens,” the co­op­er­a­tion head told journalist­s.

GLAD­STONE TAYLOR/MUL­TI­ME­DIA PHOTO ED­I­TOR

Calvin Cur­tis, an eight-year-old stu­dent, walks from his home in the com­mu­nity of Dalvey to the Duck­en­field Pri­mary School fully dressed in uni­form and slip­pers. Cur­tis who has no In­ter­net ac­cess at home at­tended school for an as­sess­ment yes­ter­day.

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