Caribbean: The Caribbean is a region with several islands and many people dependent on their government to survive in the COVID-era.
In a few months, India became the Caribbean’s ray of hope in surviving this coronavirus pandemic. Under the Vaccine Maitri programme (as of 15 March 2021), India donated around 58.64 million doses of Indian-made vaccines to over 70 nations, including several Caribbean countries.
But a horrendous outbreak of COVID-19 in India restricted the continuous supply of vaccine donations to the countries. Indian Authorities have declared that they will not elongate the contributions of Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine consignment in any country for more than 2 months.
This piece of information is alarming, and it is demonstrating the scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines in the Caribbean. Earlier, people were in the dilemma of inoculating the Indian vaccine. But now the situation is the opposite, people are getting out of their houses to take immunization, but they encounter a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine as most of the countries which received the vaccine are out of stock.
This emphasizes the immediate need for vaccines in the Caribbean to fight the rest of the COVID-19 cases. As per the data, 300,000 vaccines were given from the Indian government to the Caribbean countries.
From which Barbados covered more than 62 thousand people, Bahamas’s vaccination drive is still going on, St Kitts and Nevis covered around 10 thousand people, Dominica covered about 17 thousand people. St Lucia covered approximately 24 thousand people. These are the accurate data of the vaccination drive in respective islands confirmed by the nations’ health ministry.
Why Caribbean need an immediate shipment of COVID-19 Vaccine?
The various Caribbean’s islands lack Advanced Health Infrastructure, making it impossible to manufacture homegrown vaccines like it’s a most advanced island like Cuba and other nations. On the other hand, making vaccines of own will take an ample amount of Capital which is not affordable for the Caribbean right now.
Additionally, the homegrown vaccine will need to fulfil trials and WHO verifications, which is time-consuming. The nation is not in the position to wait for the required procedure time-gap.
Moreover, the vaccines are needed to be inoculated in double dosage. One dose of vaccine is not sufficient for the individual. India and China are fighting their own battles to vaccinate their people. Even India restricted the donations for 2 months. In these two months, government to take actions and use their relationship with the neighbouring countries for maintaining the vaccination drive accurately.
Why can’t India provide vaccines to the Caribbean?
India was donating vaccines to Caribbean islands under a humanitarian initiative-Vaccine Maitri Programme, whose objective was to maintain vaccine equity in the nations, stated by India’s External Minister Jai Shankar.
As India has encountered a sudden spike in coronavirus in the last week, it cannot fulfil its own doses of vaccine in the nation. Serum Institute of India’s (Manufacturer of vaccines) CEO Adar Poonawalla has stated that the company was distributing the vaccines under COVAX Facility.
Still, it needs raw materials to manufacture; it is not getting the resources from the United States for free-global access, which is a limiting factor. Meantime Serum Institute of India is stockpiled in many doses, yet there are various constraints like bags, filters and others to make the antidote.
It seems like India is not in the position of giving vaccines to any country as it encountered more than 60 thousand cases in the nation. Nonetheless, the People’s Republic of China and the Caribbean’s neighbour nation Cuba is still a hope.
UNICEF’s contribution to providing vaccine under the COVAX facility
COVAX facility is a global initiative that aims at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines backed by UNICEF. Under this programme, Jamaica was the first Caribbean country to receive 14,400 consignments of COVID-19 vaccines (COVAX facility).PPAHO/WHO stated Suriname (27 March) received 24,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines Syringe through the COVAX Facility, a global effort co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and PAHO.
🇸🇷 #Suriname today received 24,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines 💉 through the COVAX Facility, a global effort co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and PAHO pic.twitter.com/02PADnBdbK
— PAHO-WHO Caribbean (@PAHOCaribbean) March 27, 2021
Whereas Haiti (the most ignored nation in the Caribbean) is still seeking vaccines. Although Haiti has seen fewer than 13,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, it has also only performed 53,000 tests since the pandemic’s initiation.
Wastage of vaccines in privileged countries
COVAX facility aims to induce herd immunity worldwide by maintaining equity of vaccines. Authorities have recently declared that they will give vaccines to underdeveloped countries.
Still, it will not vanish the pandemic until it is given to each country according to the requirement. On the other hand, Privileged countries like Canada are demanding 7 doses of vaccine per person, which simply signifying wastage of antidotes.
Government to take measure for vaccine availability
Vaccine Equity seems like an unachievable dream for the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago struggled to obtain their consignment of vaccines from India, and the reason behind this long wait was lack of proper resources; at the same time, some countries are still waiting for their turns. People are dependent on the government for their well-being.
At this time, authorities have to prove that they can go the extra mile for their people. This is the high time for the leaders to act to eradicate the shortage of COVID-19 vaccine and eliminate the dispute over vaccines. Caribbean’s administration needs to expand its horizons to fulfil their people’s need.