Colombia becomes the first in the Americas to be vaccinated by COVAX | News on the coronavirus pandemic
The Pan American Health Organization has said the United Nations-backed program will boost access to the COVID vaccine in hard-hit Latin America.
Colombia became the first country in the Americas to receive a shipment of coronavirus vaccines through the United Nations COVAX program, receiving 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday.
The arrival of the cargo in the capital, Bogota, came days after the anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 in Latin America.
Colombia has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the region, recording more than 2.25 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 60,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
“Today marks a very important milestone, today COVAX makes its first delivery to the Western Hemisphere, and the first country to receive it is Colombia,” President Ivan Duque said in a statement.
COVAX, the global access mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines, aims to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people are vaccinated and that low- and middle-income countries have equitable access to vaccines.
But the initiative was hampered by the very limited global supply of doses and by logistical problems. Although it aims to deliver two billion hits this year, it currently only has legally binding agreements for several hundred million hits.
“The arrival means that more health workers and high-risk populations can begin to be vaccinated,” World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
“The COVID-19 pandemic can only end if vaccination is carried out fairly, and I am truly delighted to see vaccine doses in South America and other regions starting to roll out this week through COVAX. . “
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said it plans to increase access to vaccines in Latin America through COVAX and announced plans to deliver approximately 280 million vaccines to the Americas and the Caribbean by the end of the year.
The organization said in a statement Monday that 36 countries in the region will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines as part of the initiative.
Of these, 26 will do so with their own funds while 10 will receive the vaccines free of charge.
Peru, El Salvador and Bolivia are expected to receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines as part of the “first wave” of COVAX shipments, PAHO said in its statement.
Colombia began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign last month.
The government has announced plans to vaccinate 35 million people this year, including hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees currently living in the country.