By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Tues. April 27, 2021: The Biden White House on Monday said it now plans to share up to 60 million vaccine doses to aid desperate countries; but it’s unclear which countries will receive them.
Will the Caribbean be that lucky? We will have to wait and see, especially since there was no commitment from US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, in his meeting with CARICOM and CARICOM foreign affairs ministers last week.
The issue was raised but Blinken, according to CARICOM, said he would engage with his colleague US Cabinet Secretaries on the issues of mutual interest raised by the ministers.
China and Russia have shared their vaccines with the world as has India, which is now in crisis. The US has not and has faced growing pressure to help as cases spike in India, the Americas and around the world.
The White House insists the move will not affect the United States’ internal vaccination drive. “We do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against covid,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, noting that the domestic U.S. push relies on vaccines made by other companies.
That’s what every expert has said from early on, but the needle was barely moved when the US promised a measly 2.5 million doses to Mexico in exchange for help in the border crisis.
The Caribbean’s appeal, in writing from the premier of Nevis and its foreign affairs minister, Mark Brantley, as well as from Antigua & Barbuda and Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley, has so far been ignored.
This as tourism-dependent economies of the US’ third border are among those that have been most ravaged by the pandemic, which has devastated the travel industry, forcing the already debt-laden region to take on new loans and several Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda, are experiencing severe COVID-19 outbreaks at the moment with new cases per capita more than twice the global average.
AstraZeneca has millions of doses made in a U.S. facility, and has said it would have 30 million shots ready at the beginning of April.
It is possible the Caribbean’s appeal will once again fall on deaf ears as bigger nations like India, become more of a priority.
Since the first case of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean was reported in Brazil on February 26, 2020, the combined regions have reported more than 25.4 million cases and 800,000 COVID-related deaths. Countries have actively worked to secure vaccines through bilateral and multilateral arrangements, including agreements with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Russia’s Sputnik V, and China’s CoronaVac.