Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2020. 5:06 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Even with promising news about potential vaccines for COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says countries must not only start preparing but continue to follow the established protocol.
At a press briefing, Assistant Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa projected that it will cost over US$2 billion to vaccinate just 20 percent of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean. This would be primary health care and frontline workers and the most vulnerable populations in terms of health.
But the Organization is stepping in to facilitate access under the COVAX mechanism and option to purchase as a block through PAHO’s revolving fund. 28 such countries have signed up and ten more are eligible. PAHO has also partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Union, and other financial institutions and donors to secure the funding needed for lower-income countries in the Region to join.
Dr. Barbosa reiterated that even with the good news about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, they and any others must be proven safe and effective to regulators and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be made available through COVAX.
While that process gathers apace, he added, “measures to reduce the spread of the virus, control transmission and save lives must continue: wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding unnecessary gatherings and following the recommendations of local and national health authorities.”
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