Four Latin American countries have already received Covid-19 vaccines through Covax, the global distribution system promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO), its regional office said on Friday.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru this week joined Colombia, the first country in the American continent to receive immunizations facilitated by Covax.
Guatemala on Thursday obtained 81,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by the SK Bioscience laboratory in South Korea, while 33,600 doses from the same manufacturer went to El Salvador.
Peru received 117,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday, after Colombia obtained the same amount from that pharmaceutical company on March 1, PAHO said in a statement.
The next planned shipments include AstraZeneca vaccines for Honduras, which is scheduled to receive 48,000 doses on Saturday, as well as Jamaica and Paraguay, which are due to get doses next week.
In addition, orders have been issued for Nicaragua (135,000 doses) and Bolivia (228,000 doses), said PAHO, whose Revolving Fund is the Covax purchasing agent for the 36 participating American countries and territories.
Covax’s goal is to provide vaccines to at least 20% of the population of each participating country this year.
Costa Rica, for its part, expects to receive its first vaccine shipments through Covax in May.
PAHO said that in this first round of vaccine allocation, all Covax countries will receive doses to vaccinate between 2.2 and 2.6% of their population. The only exception will be the small island states, which will receive a proportion of between 16 and 20% of their population, due to the high logistical cost of delivering small quantities of vaccines.
PAHO estimates that the region will need to vaccinate about 500 million people to control the Covid-19 pandemic.
The American continent has more than 52.6 million confirmed infections and 1.2 million deaths from coronavirus since the first case detected on January 21, 2020.
Created to ensure equitable access to covid vaccines, Covax is co-led by WHO, the Coalition for the Advancement of Innovations for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), with the support of Unicef as a key partner in the execution of the program.