Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2020. 5:38 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne, says her organization will only support and distribute a World Health Organization (WHO) and national regulatory authority-approved vaccine for COVID-19 that has been proven safe and effective in clinical trials.
At a virtual press briefing, Dr. Etienne said that of more than 180 vaccine candidates being tested, just 11 have progressed to phase three clinical trials involving studies on humans. While the work is faster than ever before, she emphasized that processes to guarantee safety and efficacy are unchanged.
What has changed “is the unprecedented attention on the vaccine development process,” she added, highlighting the “over-abundance of information from a number of sources, some less reliable than others and not based on science, which has led to confusion and misinformation around vaccine safety.”
She thus called for individual countries, regulatory authorities, the scientific community, the private sector and the press to work together to inform, clearly, concisely and with a view to science information about a future COVID-19 vaccine.
As for distribution, Dr. Etienne said nearly every Latin American and Caribbean country has signed up to the COVAX facility, which proposes to provide a limited dose of the successful vaccine to reach the most important and vulnerable population. “We are actively collaborating with financial institutions, like the Inter-American Development Bank, to support countries in our region access the funding needed to purchase vaccines through the COVAX Facility when they are available…PAHO’s Revolving Fund, with more than 40 years of experience providing affordable and quality vaccines to countries in Latin American and the Caribbean, will be, along with UNICEF, the purchase mechanism for the COVAX facility,” she said.
In the Caribbean, 11 countries will receive financial support for initial payments to join the COVAX facility, she said, in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the European Union.
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