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Prime Minister John Briceño tells United Nations Belize faces COVAX wait

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Posted: Friday, September 24, 2021. 10:32 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Though Belize has no less than four different types of vaccines, all donated from various means, Prime Minister John Briceño expressed concern during his address tonight to the United Nations General Assembly that, “Belize has no delivery date for the next COVAX shipment.”

Belize signed on to the COVAX mechanism, paying millions of dollars, in the last days of the Dean Barrow administration, and at the end of March the first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered, 33,600.

A second shipment of the same amount was made in May and many are awaiting their second dose.

In his address Briceño said COVAX “has been unable to respond to the needs of its subscribers,” blaming “undermining…export bans, vaccine hoarding, and predatory purchasing has resulted in extreme inequality of access to vaccines.” 73 percent of the 5.7 billion doses given worldwide have been in ten countries, and COVAX has had to cut its distribution forecast by a quarter for 2021, he added.

Citing the World Health Organization, Briceño warned that continued vaccine inequality will lead to the persistence and mutation of the virus, causing new, resistant, deadlier variants to emerge and delaying the return to normality.

Health officials here have assured that Belize has a varied and abundant supply of vaccines, ranging from Pfizer to Sinopharm to AstraZeneca to Johnson and Johnson, and that none will run out for the time being.

Approximately 187 thousand Belizeans are at least partially vaccinated and more than 111 thousand are fully vaccinated as of September 23.

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