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COVID-19 vaccine rollout expanded in the Americas, Pan American Health Organization Director reports

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Posted: Friday, March 12, 2021. 2:01 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Several regional countries have either already received or are about to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the Americas, and not a moment too soon, according to the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne.

A year after first reaching the Americas, COVID-19 continues its grim march, with rising infections in Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile, and Brazil suffering its deadliest days since the pandemic began.

The United States, Canada, and Mexico continue to report declining cases. Across Central America, countries are reporting declining infection. In the Caribbean, cases are declining in larger islands, although infection is rising in Cuba, the Bahamas, Saint Lucia and Guadeloupe.

In the past week, the Americas has reported more than one million cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to nearly 52 million. More than 1.2 million have died from the disease.

At her weekly press briefing, Dr. Etienne reported that PAHO is working closely with member countries to “accelerate access” throughout the region.

In addition to Belize which so far has received 26 thousand doses, there is The Bahamas, which has received its first COVID-19 vaccines from a donation by the Government of the Republic of India; Peru, which joins Colombia in receiving its allotment through COVAX, the global mechanism to ensure equitable access to vaccines, regardless of countries’ incomes or the size of their economies, and upcoming doses of 2.3 million to six other countries in the coming weeks: Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, and Nicaragua. Thirty-six countries in the Americas are receiving vaccines through COVAX.

“The challenge now is to continue to accelerate deliveries to those countries that have not yet received COVAX doses to ensure that all countries receive their initial installments of vaccines this month,” Dr Etienne said. 

“PAHO is doing its part to help countries secure and deliver vaccines safely and as quickly as possible, but manufacturing limitations, low supply, and high demand for vaccines make this an uncertain situation,” she continued. “We must be patient, but we are being persistent in our pursuit of these vaccines. In the meantime, we need everyone to collaborate as we work to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe.”

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