By Carlena Knight
Antigua and Barbuda has been confirmed as one of several Caribbean countries who will receive an undisclosed number of vaccines from the US.
Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph confirmed these reports when he spoke to our newsroom exclusively on Wednesday as he accepted the final paid COVAX shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines at the VC Bird International Airport.
“My understanding is that this is being arranged through Caricom and we have been advised that we are on that list,” Joseph said.
“I am not sure of the exact quantity but all Caricom countries should benefit from the generosity of the US government for which we are extremely thankful and we are hoping that the delivery of those vaccines will come as soon as possible,” he added.
Last week, the US announced they will donate millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean as well as several other countries, by month’s end.
About 19 million of those initial 25 million doses would be shared with Covax.
Seven million doses of the Covax will go to Asia, six million to Latin America and the Caribbean, and five million to Africa.
Another six million vaccine doses will be donated directly to several countries that are considered strategic foreign policy partners, some of whom are struggling with surging infection rates, including Mexico, Canada and Haiti.
This list also includes South Korea, Ukraine, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
Despite there having been a commitment that the donations would be made at the end of the month to the Caribbean region, Joseph shared that there is still no exact figure or definite date for when Antigua and Barbuda will receive its doses, or an exact amount.
He did, however, explain that the allocation of doses will be based on the population size of the country as Trinidad has already been advised about their allocation of vaccines.
“It will be allocated based on the population and so given that Trinidad’s population is much bigger than Antigua we don’t anticipate that we will get that quantity but it will be based on the size of the country, its population and so forth. So, we are optimistic that it will take place fairly shortly,” Joseph mentioned.
The initial tranche of 25 million doses will include shots already authorized for emergency use in the United States, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
The donations will not include tens of millions of doses developed by AstraZeneca, which are still undergoing a US safety review.
The World Health Organization and its regional arm, the Pan American Health Organization, have been pleading for months that the US and other rich countries with surplus vaccines to share their extra supplies with poorer countries.