CARICOM to receive 5.5M doses of Pfizer vaccine from U.S.
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THE U.S. Government has donated 5.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to support the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press statement from CARICOM, this is the culmination of efforts initiated by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, who, as Chair of CARICOM, wrote to President Joseph Biden of the United States earlier this year requesting a supply of vaccines for the Community.

President Biden subsequently announced that the U.S. will be donating a supply of vaccines to the region as part of its world-wide distribution of 80 million doses.
Vice-President of the United States, Kamala Harris, also spoke with Prime Minister Rowley in June and confirmed the allocation to CARICOM.

The CARICOM Member States will receive the much-anticipated Pfizer vaccines, with 1.5 million doses being allocated to Haiti and the other four million doses for distribution among the remaining 14 countries.

The donation from the White House also includes three million ancillary kits containing needles, syringes, diluent and other supplies which have already been received.

The donation follows months of discussions among the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Pfizer, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the CARICOM Secretariat.

At the beginning of those discussions, the total number of persons vaccinated in CARICOM countries stood at a meagre 515,000, which emphasises the importance of the donation by the U.S. Government.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, expressed his appreciation to President Biden for his generosity and to his team at the White House for their commitment to delivering the vaccines.

“This end result is due to the hard work put in by the White House staff, the staff of CARPHA, the staff of the Secretariat and the team at Pfizer,” the Secretary-General said.

“These vaccines would contribute significantly to the region’s ability to control this pandemic and place the Caribbean on a path to economic recovery. Importantly, it would also allow for schools to be re-opened given that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for emergency use for children 12 years and over,” Ambassador LaRocque added.

CARPHA’s Executive Director, Dr. Joy St. John, said: “As the public health agency leading the regional COVID-19 response, we have worked with Member States to ensure that they are ready to accept the vaccines, especially as it relates to regulatory approval, coordination, planning and delivery, logistics, shipment receipt and procedures”.

Dr. St. John added: “CARPHA was pleased to collaborate with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), as they facilitated specialised training on vaccine systems, while we facilitated the special ultra-cold chain training, which Pfizer delivered to the countries receiving the vaccine donation”.

Dr. St. John confirmed that three million ancillary kits have already been delivered, with the support of Caribbean Airlines and the CARICOM Regional Security System (RSS). Another tranche of one million ancillary kits will be delivered directly by Pfizer along with vaccine shipments.

Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, had said that once Guyana gets the Pfizer vaccine, it will be going to children.

A research from a 2000-plus sample size in 2020 had shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 100 per cent effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus in children ages 12 through 15.

In late 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed emergency use of the vaccine from age 16. This year, the vaccine was given to children in the U.S. from ages 12 to 15.

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