Jamaica, Nicaragua and Haiti Fail to Reach 10% COVID-19 Vaccination Target
Cuba is seeking WHO approval for its COVID-19 vaccines.

Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Haiti were the only three member countries of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) that failed to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) target of vaccinating 10% of their populations against COVID-19 by the end of September.

Around 37% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while seven countries in the Americas have vaccinated more than 70% of their populations, according to PAHO.

While COVID-19 cases are down in the Americas, some local trends across the region remain worrisome, PAHO officials said during a press briefing Wednesday.

The Americas reported a 12% decrease in weekly new cases, according to the newest WHO Weekly Epidemiological Update on COVID-19

Worrying local trends

However, local trends paint a different story. Many Southwestern Canadian provinces and the US state of Alaska are reporting their highest hospitalization rates and ICU peaks, with emergency rooms in Alaska overwhelmed with COVID-19.

Chile is also seeing a rise in new cases, especially in urban regions, such as the metropolitan region of Santiago, and in port cities such as Coquimbo and Antofagasta. 

While cases continue to decrease in Central America, Costa Rica and Belize continue to see high rates of hospitalization and ICU peaks. 

In response, PAHO urged governments to remain vigilant on monitoring local COVID-19 trends in their areas.  

“We are reminding governments to keep a close eye on local trends because infection dynamics vary within each country, in part due to differences in vaccine availability and uptake. This small localized approach will be key to keep outbreaks under control,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne implored.

Vaccine shortages

Although 875,000 vaccine doses have arrived in the region, this is not enough to protect everyone, said Etienne.

“We continue to urge countries with surplus doses to share them with countries in our region, where they can have life-saving impact.” 

PAHO continues to deliver COVAX-funded doses and donations, having already closed agreements with three emergency use listing authorized vaccines – Sinovac, Sinopharm, and AstraZeneca.

Nicaragua has recently announced that the country will receive 7 million doses of Cuban vaccines Abdala, Soberana, and Soberana 2 over the next 3 months.

Cuba had released information back in June regarding the vaccines – its three-dose Abdala vaccine was 92% effective, and its Soberana 2 vaccine is 91% effective when combined with a booster vaccine called Soberana Plus. 

The island’s national regulatory agency approved the Abdala vaccine in July and the Soberana 2 vaccine in August

Cuba is currently trying to seek WHO approval for its two home-grown vaccines, which would facilitate their delivery in other countries.  PAHO is supporting Cuba’s participation in the vaccine qualification process.

“Our interest is that all vaccines are able to participate in the WHO process for granting emergency use authorization because this will broaden the supply of vaccines that we are able to purchase through the Revolving Fund,” said PAHO’s Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa.

For now, PAHO is working with the Nicaraguan government to increase its vaccine access – the country is receiving 223,000 doses from Pfizer starting next week, and an additional 81,900 vaccines from Pfizer are to be received over the rest of the month. 

Nicaragua is receiving other vaccines through COVAX, as well as vaccine donations from Spain. 


Image Credits: News Prensa Latina/Twitter.

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