President Carlos Alvarado has directly asked U.S. President Joe Biden for assistance with Costa Rica’s coronavirus vaccine supply, the Central American leader said Sunday.
Beginning in March, Alvarado explained, Costa Rica “requested support from the United States, the European Union and China to accelerate the arrival of vaccines.” Specifically, the Costa Rican president asked Biden for “a donation or a loan of vaccines, or to strengthen the COVAX mechanism.”
“The negotiations with friendly countries, which began more than 6 weeks ago, will continue in an attempt to further accelerate the arrival of vaccines,” Alvarado said.
The comments came in a televised speech in which Alvarado addressed Costa Rica’s efforts to accelerate its Covid-19 vaccination efforts.
The latest updates from the Costa Rican Social Security System (Caja) show 1.1 million doses administered in a country of 5 million.
Biden has not publicly responded to Costa Rica’s request, but he has said almost half the world’s leaders have contacted him for help in obtaining Covid-19 vaccines.
“I literally have, virtually 40% of the world leaders calling and asking, can we help them,” Biden said. “We’re going to try.”
Alvarado said Sunday that while he believes richer countries are “hoarding” vaccines, Costa Rica plans to immunize at least 3.5 million people and reach herd immunity by the end of 2021.
Before July, Costa Rica expects to reach 2.2 million doses received in total. An additional 2.5 million will arrive by the end of September, Alvarado said, explaining these estimates are “conservative” and “the government hopes to surpass them with its efforts.”
The Health Ministry is also allowing the private sector to import vaccines, which Alvarado said “will add to the effort to speed up vaccination.”