CARICOM, Caribbean (Tuesday, August 17, 2021) — Last week Wednesday, the US government gifted the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with 5.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccines.
This is the culmination of efforts, initiated by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, who, as Chair of CARICOM, wrote to US President Joseph Biden, earlier this year, requesting a supply of vaccines for the Community.
President Biden subsequently announced that the US was donating a supply of vaccines to the region, as part of its world-wide distribution of 80 million doses. US Vice-president, Kamala Harris, also spoke with Prime Minister Rowley, in June, confirming the allocation to CARICOM.
15 CARICOM Member States will receive the much-anticipated Pfizer vaccines, with 1.5 million doses being allocated to Haiti, and the other 4 million doses for distribution among 14 CARICOM countries. The donation also includes 3 million ancillary kits, containing needles, syringes, diluents and other supplies, which have already been received.
This donation follows months of discussions, between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Pfizer, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the CARICOM Secretariat. At the beginning of these discussions, the total number of persons vaccinated in CARICOM countries stood at a meagre 515,000, which emphasizes the importance of the donation by the US government.
CARICOM Secretary General at the time, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, expressed his appreciation to President Biden for his generosity, and to his team at the White House for their commitment to delivering the vaccines.
“This end result is due to the hard work put in by the White House staff, the staff of CARPHA, the staff of the Secretariat and the team at Pfizer,” the former Secretary-General said.
“These vaccines will contribute, significantly, to the region’s ability to control this pandemic and place the Caribbean on a path to economic recovery. Importantly, it will also allow for schools to be re-opened, given that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for emergency use for children, 12 years and over.” Ambassador LaRocque added.
CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. Joy St. John gave the assurance that, “As the public health agency leading the regional COVID-19 response, we have worked with Member States to ensure that they are ready to accept the vaccines, especially as it relates to regulatory approval, coordination, planning and delivery, logistics, shipment receipt and procedure.
“CARPHA was pleased to collaborate with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), as they facilitated specialized training on vaccine systems, while we facilitated the special ultra-cold chain training, which Pfizer delivered to the countries receiving the vaccine donation.”
Dr. St. John confirmed that 3 million ancillary kits have already been delivered, with the support of Caribbean Airlines and the CARICOM Regional Security System (RSS), and another tranche of 1 million ancillary kits will be delivered, directly, by Pfizer, along with the vaccine shipments.