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PAHO says improvements in vaccine availability on the horizon

By Kadeem Joseph 

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The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is assuring Antigua and Barbuda and other countries in the region that the Covax facility will deliver on much needed vaccines as high global demands continue to make acquisition of the shots difficult.

The assurance comes as smaller countries continue to bemoan difficulties in accessing inoculations for their populations.

Assistant Director of PAHO, Dr Jarbas Barbosa, said while supplying vaccines over the next few months will be difficult, increases in supply are expected by June.

“The deployment that is being provided by the Covax facility to the countries will be a sustainable one. We have data showing us that March and April will not be easy; even May will still have limited access,” he said. “Starting June, we will have more access to vaccines.”

Dr Barbosa is therefore encouraging Antigua and Barbuda and other countries with limited access to vaccines to ensure vulnerable groups are protected.

“So, it is very important for these countries to use these vaccines in a wise way,” he said.

He is proposing that countries continue to target groups that are more exposed to contracting the virus, such as healthcare professionals, and thereafter use the jab to “save lives”, by protecting the most vulnerable groups who could develop the most severe forms of the Covid-19 disease.

The PAHO assistant director is also encouraging countries to take advantage of the suggested 12-week interval between Oxford-AstraZeneca doses to keep their programmes sustainable.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Staff within the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel “Max” Hurst, has indicated that Antigua and Barbuda is still expecting its first batch of Covax vaccines in less than two weeks.

He noted that by March 29, the 14,400 vaccine doses expected in the first tranche of jabs delivered under the Covax facility will be “on our doorstep”.

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