Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 14, 2021 (SKNIS): On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, a special emergency CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting was held to discuss how the region can move forward in the COVID-19 climate especially in relation to the availability of and access to vaccines.
“The CARICOM Heads reiterated our concern for equitable access to an efficacious vaccine and of course we denounced efforts at vaccine nationalism,” said Dr. Harris. “By that, we see developing the tendency where specifically the larger and richer countries are being the first to have access to the vaccine and having regard to the requirements and the quantum available, we are attempting to ensure that consideration is given to all countries, all regions of the world,” said Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris at his monthly press conference on January 14.
He said that there must be a regime that allows for equitable access.
“Indeed in the fight against COVID, so long as one country has it, all of us have it. It is a transboundary issue, which we have to confront together,” he said.
Prime Minister Harris stated that at present there are eleven ongoing phase three trials and that three vaccine candidates have received emergency use authorization. The three include the Pfizer- BioNTech, Moderna, and the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccines.
He said that the COVAX facility is a global mechanism for pooling the purchasing and fair distribution of vaccines.
“It is one of the four pillars as we undertake to defeat COVID-19. Vaccines of course loom large. It is one of the four pillars which we have to address if we are going to win the fight,” said the Prime Minister.
He added, “We have internationally what is being described as the Facilitation Council. St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of that authority by virtue of my quasi Cabinet position among CARICOM Heads as the lead Prime Minister on matters to do with health among other issues.”
The COVAX facility hopes to allocate about 2 billion doses this year 2021. St. Kitts & Nevis submitted its payment and confirmed its participation in the COVAX Facility since October 9, 2020.
On January 5, 2021, the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) committed to a special fund of US$ 600,000.00 for the purchase of additional vaccines. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, is leading the national efforts regarding COVID-19 vaccines and is the technical advisor to the Facilitation Council.
Prime Minister Harris said that the end of the pandemic is dependent on rapid vaccination as well as the continued application of non-pharmaceutical measures.
He said that the country aims to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population to prevent clusters of COVID -19 cases and local transmission.