COVAX vaccines due to arrive Thursday

Vials labelled "Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo, in this illustration photo taken March 14, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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The first batch of Covid-19 vaccines heading to Antigua and Barbuda via the international COVAX scheme is set to arrive in two days.

The nation is due to receive 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot on Thursday morning under the initiative co-founded by the World Health Organization.

A “delivery schedule” posted to the Pan-American Health Organization’s website – and updated yesterday – shows that the shipment is already in transit.

Barbados, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines are set to receive their COVAX vaccines today, with Grenada and St Lucia due to get theirs on Wednesday.

The confirmation is welcome news to Antigua and Barbuda and fellow Caribbean islands, amid fears that high global demand for the jabs would further delay their arrival in the region, stymying national vaccination programmes.

The twin island nation’s first COVAX allotment was previously scheduled for arrival by the end of March. The shipment will ensure residents who have received a first dose will receive the important second dose of the two-dose vaccine.

Antigua and Barbuda has to date administered an initial dose to just over 27,000 residents. That means it currently has almost 13,000 doses left from existing supplies donated by India at the end of February.

COVAX is a United Nations-backed alliance created last year to ensure poor countries across the world aren’t left behind in the race to protect populations against Covid-19.

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