Posted: Saturday, May 22, 2021. 12:36 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Latin America and the Caribbean have now recorded approximately a third of the worldwide death toll for COVID-19 after passing one million deaths yesterday, Friday.
Confirming the “tragic” and unwanted milestone, Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa F Etienne said in a statement, “This pandemic is far from over, and it is hitting Latin America and the Caribbean severely, affecting our health, our economies, and entire societies. Yet only about 3% of our citizens have been vaccinated.”
As of Friday, the total is 1,001,781. Nearly 90 percent of the deaths are attributed to five countries: Brazil (44.3%), México (22.1%), Colombia (8.3%), Argentina (7.3) and Peru (6.7%). Three percent of the deaths were concentrated in Central America and one percent in the Caribbean.
Of the more than 153.5 million residents of the Americas now vaccinated, only 21.6% of these are in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States accounts for the majority of vaccinations, with almost half of Americans having received at least one COVID vaccine dose and nearly 85 percent of those over the age of 85 are fully protected, and the result has been a sharp reduction in COVID-19 infections, deaths and hospitalizations, said Dr. Etienne, who added: “The region is an epicenter for COVID-19 suffering. It should be an epicenter for vaccination, too.”
The rest of the region needs to emulate the U.S. example, and that is done by accelerating access to vaccines throughout our region, so that other countries can fully immunize their populations: “We urgently need more vaccines for Latin America and the Caribbean, a region which has been sorely tested by this pandemic.”
Dr. Etienne congratulated countries, like the U.S., that have indicated a willingness to donate tens of millions of excess vaccine doses and called on other countries to follow suit.
PAHO has delivered more than 12 million COVAX-procured vaccine doses to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Another 770,000 doses are on the way to Central American and Caribbean countries.
Dr. Etienne also called on people to continue to observe public health measures including wearing masks, social distancing, hand hygiene, and ventilating closed spaces when possible. She urged people to get vaccinated when called on by national governments, adding, “Vaccines are safe and effective and a major tool to stop this pandemic.”
Belize’s death toll stands at 323 as of Friday, with more than 12 thousand infected since the pandemic began here in a population of an estimated 400 thousand and more.
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