Countries in the Americas have been notified of their first Covid-19 vaccine allocations through COVAX, a coalition led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to ensure equitable access, according to a Sunday press release from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
Some 36 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have been told via letters sent to their health authorities of their estimated dose allocation for the first phase of vaccine delivery, the PAHO release said.
The AstraZeneca vaccine will be supplied first, although it is still under review by WHO for emergency approval. That approval is expected within days, according to PAHO.
“With more than 45 million confirmed cases and more than one million deaths, countries and territories throughout the Americas, particularly the poorest among them, are experiencing an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne.
“The start of vaccine delivery through the COVAX mechanism is a hopeful step in the fight against this virus and PAHO is proud to facilitate an effort that is urgently needed for our region.”
Delivery timeline: It’s estimated that around 35.3 million doses will be arriving in the Americas in this first stage, and should reach their destination from the second half of February through the second quarter of 2021. The vaccine dose figures are subject to manufacturing production capacity and supply agreements, in addition to the emergency use approval, the PAHO release said.
Ahead of the vaccine delivery, those countries in the Americas participating in COVAX are now starting preparations to receive and deploy the vaccines, according to PAHO.
Additional doses: Additionally, four Latin American countries participating in COVAX were selected by an independent committee based on criteria of pandemic risk, impact, and mortality rates in recent weeks to receive a limited number of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine above their allotted quota.
Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru will receive a total of 377,910 doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected to arrive from mid-February, subject to supply agreements.