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Vaccine access gap widening, PAHO warns

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Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2021. 8:59 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) continues to warn of a widening gap in countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Director Dr Carissa Etienne noted in a press briefing, “Money, more than public health, has determined how quickly countries can secure the tools they need to combat this virus.”

She continued, “As countries that struck deals with vaccine manufacturers pull further ahead, vaccination coverage continues to linger in the single digits for much of our region.”

For instance, Chile and Uruguay lead the way in complete vaccination from COVID at 58 and 55 percent, while neighbour Paraguay and Jamaica have struggled to fully vaccinate just three percent of their populations. Belize’s neighbours Honduras and Guatemala are even worse off at less than one percent (as of Monday Belize had reached nine percent full vaccination).

But more vaccines are on the way with 12 million donated by the U.S. government, among others.

“These vaccines are bringing hope to countries that would otherwise have to wait months to secure even a fraction of these doses,” she said. “That’s why we continue to urge donors and countries with surplus vaccines to share them with our region. This remains the only way for many countries in our region to secure the doses they need, quickly.”

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