News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. July 22, 2021: Just 15 percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated, PAHO’s director, Carissa Etienne said at a weekly briefing Wednesday.
She said the figure obscures the fact that some countries like Honduras and Haiti have yet to reach even 1% inoculation and reiterated a call for countries with enough doses to distribute them as quickly as possible to needy countries.
“We clearly need more vaccines and we need them now,” Etienne said. “At this time vaccine donations are really the only way for many countries in our region to secure the doses that they need quickly. Please don’t wait until you have surplus doses. You need to share out of what you have now.”
The start of vaccinations in Haiti – which has plunged deeper into turmoil following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise – highlights how ready countries are to receive donations of shots, she added. The COVAX mechanism will send 3.7 million more vaccine doses to countries in the region through the end of July, PAHO subdirector Jarbas Barbosa said.
Following the delivery of 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine donated by the United States through the COVAX mechanism, a first vaccination session was organized on Friday, July 16th by the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) at the Hospital Universitaire de Paix (HUP) in Port-au-Prince, where many health professionals and elderly people came to receive the first dose of Moderna vaccine.
Solange Février, a cleaning lady at HUP, was among the first Haitians to be vaccinated in the country. “I work at the hospital, I am happy and it is a very good thing for the country. Moreover, after receiving my first dose, I feel very good,” she explains.
The Americas reported 967,000 new cases and 22,000 deaths last week, Etienne said, a slight weekly decrease.
Honduras is seeing an increase in cases along its border. COVID-19 infections are increasing in most Central American countries, with Guatemala reporting high cases and hospitalizations.
In the Caribbean, both COVID-19 cases and deaths are spiking in Cuba, where conditions are especially acute in the province of Matanzas, Dr. Etienne said. Trinidad and Tobago reached 1,000 deaths this week.
Other smaller islands are also reporting an increase in infections, among them Martinique, which is experiencing a tripling of cases. Hotspots also persist in Amazonian states in Colombia and Peru.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Latin America and the Caribbean in Brazil on February 26, 2020.