Six Latin American, Caribbean heads call for equitable vaccine access

Six presidents of Latin American and Caribbean countries called Monday on the international community for equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, asking those countries with the most doses to share them.

File photo: AFP

"We strongly appeal to countries which have a surplus of doses or which have already vaccinated their populations at risk, to implement measures so that these surpluses are distributed equitably and immediately," said a joint statement issued by Costa Rica's President Carlos Alvarado.

The appeal was signed by Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Bolivian President Luis Arce, Ecuador's Guillermo Lasso and Uruguay's Luis Lacalle Pou.

Of the 1.3 billion doses of vaccines already administered worldwide, more than half have been administered in five countries, which account for 50 percent of global GDP, according to official data.

"No one will be safe until we are all safe. Coping with and recovering from the pandemic will only be possible when vaccines reach vulnerable populations around the world," the leaders said.

"In total, low-income countries received only 0.3 percent of global doses," they added.

The appearance of "new and more dangerous variants of the Covid-19 virus highlights the fact that isolated vaccination, by country, is an ineffective strategy for getting out of the acute phase of the pandemic," they added.

Latin America is home to five of the 10 worst-hit countries worldwide with the most cases detected per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks: Uruguay, Argentina, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Colombia, according to data collected by AFP.

World Health Organization boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have already made similar calls for equitable access to vaccines.