Friday 30 October, 2020

CARPHA makes deal with PAHO to help member states access COVAX

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), with funding from the European Union (EU), has entered into an agreement with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to support member states’ participation in the COVAX Facility.

CARPHA plans to aid with the required down payment to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance which is the administrator of the COVAX Facility.

“It is critical that there is equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to allow for adequate coverage and a safe approach to achieving herd immunity as no country will be safe until everybody is safe,” CARPHA said in a statement.

The agency aims to make investments into the acceleration, manufacturing and scale-up of an approved COVID-19 vaccine candidate to secure two billion doses by the end of 2021.

Dr Joy St John, CARPHA Executive Director said: “This virus continues to pose a public health threat to our region and there are currently no vaccines to protect against it. CARPHA has an eight million euro grant with the EU that was signed in April 2020, which includes three million euros for the purchase of vaccines or treatments when they become available. The EU has approved the use of a portion of these funds to assist CARPHA Member States meet their down payment obligations to participate in the COVAX Facility. The agreement with the European Union will ensure that our Caribbean people, especially the most vulnerable, receive and benefit from a safe, effective and approved COVID-19 vaccine.”

She  added: “To date, 12 CARPHA member states have signed agreements with Gavi, namely Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos. The agreements are between Gavi and the member states. CARPHA is assisting seven of these member states with all or a portion of the required down payment. The down payment is approximately 15% of the value of vaccines that countries intend to procure in the future, ranging between 15% to 33% of their populations.”

Another six countries – Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St Lucia as well as St Vincent and the Grenadines – automatically qualify to access the Vaccine Alliance.

In accordance with the agreement, PAHO will receive the funds from CARPHA for transfer to Gavi for the required down payments. When the vaccines are available, member states will purchase them through the PAHO Revolving Fund.

Dr Carissa F Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and Regional Director for the Americas of the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated: “PAHO is pleased to facilitate the transfer of this partial down payment to Gavi on behalf of member states. The COVAX Facility provides the best opportunity for countries to fair and equitable access to a pool of candidate vaccines. This will require the development and implementatioan of national plans that include strategic health promotion and communication strategies to ensure vaccine demand.”

The EU has committed to mobilising resources for the Coronavirus Global Response and is providing US$2 million for COVID-19 vaccines for Caribbean countries, whenever a vaccine becomes available. The EU funding will pay for more than one million doses of a successful vaccine and has already been transferred to the COVAX Facility through its Vaccine Alliance.

Luis Maia, Head of Cooperation at the EU’s Barbados Office stated: “The European Union is pleased to be participating in this proactive initiative that ensures that whenever a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available there will be adequate dosages for the Caribbean given its economic and other vulnerabilities.”

The COVAX Facility which was launched in April is co-led by Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Facility supports access to COVID-19 vaccines for lower-income economies

As of October 15, 4,194 people have succumbed to COVID-19 in 33 territories of the Caribbean, including CARPHA member states. This, as global deaths surpass one million.

 

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