US giving 6 million doses of vaccines to Latin America, Caribbean

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — A senior official of the United States Embassy here has welcomed the announcement by President Joe Biden that it is providing six million doses of vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The US Embassy in Port of Spain has worked closely with regional counterparts, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and officials in Washington, DC, to ensure the region would be included in this donation,” said Charg d’Affaires Shante Moore.

“This is an example of what we envision as a strategic bilateral partnership working together to address and resolve issues of mutual importance to the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, and the region,” he added.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that America is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that it has demonstrated at home.

Biden said Washington has already committed four billion US dollars to support COVAX, an initiative to reduce vaccine disparity between high- and low-income countries. It is a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and two international groups — the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) — which aims to send vaccines to developing countries.

Biden said that the US has launched partnerships to boost global capacity to manufacture more vaccines.

“My Administration supports efforts to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines because, over time, we need more companies producing life-saving doses of proven vaccines that are shared equitably.”

Washington last month announced that by the end of June, it would share 80 million doses of its vaccine supply with the world.

“Today we’re providing more detail on how we will allocate the first 25 million of those vaccines to lay the ground for increased global coverage and to address real and potential surges, high burdens of disease, and the needs of the most vulnerable countries.”

Moore said that Washington is sharing the vaccine doses “not to secure favours, extract concessions, or pursue hidden agendas.

“We are not imposing conditions the way other countries are doing. The vaccines are being donated, free and clear. We are giving them for a single purpose — to end the pandemic and save lives.

“We are sharing these vaccines, five times more than any other country has shared, to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our leadership, genuine concerns for humanity, and with our values,” the US diplomat said. “We will continue to follow the science and work in close cooperation with our democratic partners to coordinate a multilateral effort, including through the G7.”

He said that up to 25 per cent of the 25 million vaccine doses will be used to help countries such as India, dealing with immediate surges in a flexible manner.

“We are working on the regulatory and logistical issues of transporting the vaccines and will provide more country-specific information soon, ” Moore added.

Earlier, the Office of the Prime Minister in Trinidad and Tobago announced that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had held talks Thursday with US Vice-President Kamala Harris.

The two paragraph statement said that the “telephone conference meeting” was “the very latest in a series of high-level contacts which the chairman of Caricom, Prime Minister Rowley, has been having with high-level officials of the US Administration in recent weeks”.

It gave no further details, but in recent times, Rowley has been seeking to get Washington to provide the Caricom region with vaccines to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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