With vaccine shortages, Latin America accounted for 55% of all Covid-19 deaths in the past week
The director-general of PAHO (Pan American Health Organization), Carissa Etienne, said that expanding equitable access to immunization against Covid-19 in Latin America should be a global priority.
According to Etienne, despite being the epicenter of the pandemic, the Americas are lagging behind in vaccination efforts. "Most countries cannot access doses through bilateral agreements with manufacturers," she said.
The region recorded 55% of deaths reported worldwide in the past week. PAHO has already made itself available to ensure that doses are received as quickly as possible.
UN: Immunization in Latin America should be a global priority, says Opas
Nurse holds dose of vaccine at the health center of Los Pinos, Bolivia, in May 2020 (Photo: Unicef / Carola Andrade)
During the pandemic, countries faced shortages of essential medical supplies, such as drugs, tests, personal protective equipment and even oxygen, which is still lacking in much of the Americas. Now, the big challenge is vaccines.
“Manufacturers are working 24 hours a day to produce more doses. New vaccine candidates are being analyzed and added to the WHO Emergency Use List, ”reported Etienne.
Due to this effort, more vaccines will be available soon. "But for now, the world continues to face a shortage of immunization, especially in Latin America, for much of 2021," she recalled.
The head of Opas recalled that the rich countries are immunizing while many countries have not yet received a single dose. "This disparity undermines the principles of solidarity and, more than that, it is a self-destructive strategy".
Etienne said that as long as Covid-19 exists some, the rest of the world is not safe. The more the virus spreads, the greater the risk of dangerous variants appearing, which can complicate control efforts.
The head of PAHO also highlighted the access to these immunizations within member states, saying that they should not increase the division within countries. According to her, "these life-saving vaccines should not be the privilege of the few, but the right of all."