The first tranche of vaccines under the COVAX Facility represents a significant step forward in Barbados’ fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, expressed this view earlier today during a ceremony, on the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines for Barbados, provided through the COVAX Facility.
Those present included Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who received the vaccines, as well as various foreign diplomats, representatives from PAHO/WHO and the United Nations and health officials.
Lt. Col. Bostic said: “Thirty-three thousand plus vaccines really represent 33,000 small jabs in the arms of Barbadians and residents of this country. But it represents, also, a significant step forward in our fight against COVID-19, as we pursue the path towards a destination which would include seeing Barbadians able to return to as close as possible to the quality of life that we are accustomed living and to the livelihoods of persons residing here as well.
“These vaccines will help us in the Ministry to be able to manage COVID-19, and to be able to live with COVID-19, so that people could enjoy what they normally enjoy.”
Describing it as a long journey, the Minister said Government was happy to have received the vaccines and thanked the representatives of the European Union, United Kingdom, United States of America, Japan and Canada, as well as officials of the United Nations and PAHO/WHO.
In addition, he expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Mottley, saying she was relentless in her efforts to ensure there were enough vaccines on island for citizens and residents who wanted to be immunised.
“Prime Minister, in every way, you have made it possible for the Ministry of Health and Wellness to have the resources – financial and otherwise – to be able to manage and fight this battle against COVID-19,” Lt. Col. Bostic stated.
In his address, the PAHO/WHO Representative to Barbados, Dr. Yitades Gebre, said the start of the vaccine roll out was a hopeful step in the right direction to fight the virus, and PAHO was proud to facilitate the effort in Barbados.
“Access to COVID-19 vaccines should not be a privilege for few, but a right that we share, regardless of who we are, where we are and where we come from,” Dr. Gebre stated.
He noted that vaccine supply continued to be a great challenge and identified the delay in production as manufacturers scale up capacity as a large part of the issue.
He explained that the goal of the COVAX Facility is to provide vaccines for up to 20% of the population in each participating country globally.
“COVAX remains the best option to offer vaccines with equity…. Our goal must be to save as many lives as possible by prioritising early doses for those who are at the highest risk of infection…. Vaccines will help save lives and eventually halt the pandemic,” Dr. Gebre surmised.
The Pan American Health Organization is the Procurement Agency for the COVAX Facility.
Meanwhile, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Didier Trebucq, said the handover of the vaccines was an important milestone, as the world had learned the hard way that the virus “has no border”.
“So, we all know that we will only be able to end this crisis and the pandemic by ensuring that all countries, regardless of income, are able to offer the vaccine to their entire population. Our goal is to save lives and leave no country behind andI give my assurances that the UN System remains committed to this task and to uphold the principle of universality,” Mr. Trebucq stated.
He noted that by sharing doses between sister nations, the Caribbean showed solidarity, and served as a model. He stressed that the UN remained resolute in its position on global vaccine equity, particularly as it related to access for low and middle-income countries.
“The COVAX Facility is a tangible response to ensure equity; it is a global coalition and the one tool to procure and deliver vaccines to every country in the world…. This reflects the true added value of multilateralism and how it works for the people,” Mr. Trebucq opined.