CARICOM states have insisted on the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, in a resolution adopted by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) by acclamation on Wednesday.
The resolution was presented on behalf of CARICOM by Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador, Sir Ronald Sanders, who was the architect of the original resolution and who was the chief negotiator for its adoption along with Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer, the Chair of the CARICOM caucus.
It called for a scaling-up of production by the main vaccine-producing countries, faster distribution of the vaccines, and low-cost financing from international financial institutions so that developing countries can buy needed stocks.
The resolution also called expressed grave concern about inequitable access and distribution of vaccines.
Speaking for CARICOM, Ambassador Sanders told the OAS that its 34 member states accounted for 45 percent of the infected cases and 48 percent of the deaths globally.
“That is almost half the global number of infected cases and nearly half the number of deaths in the world,” he said. “Those figures alone should give each of us – and all of us – every good reason to be gravely troubled about the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of our peoples. In many, if not all, of our countries, our hospitals are finding it enormously difficult to cope”.
Sir Ronald explained that while the majority of developing states, including in Latin America and the Caribbean, are still without stocks of vaccines, “some developed countries have ordered vaccines, in one case, five times the size of its population, and are hoarding them at a time when they are desperately needed throughout the world”.
He cited studies that indicate that some of the world’s rich nations, representing only 15 percent of the global population have bought 60 percent of the available vaccines.
“The world will not survive if 15 percent of the world holds for itself 60 percent of vaccines, and 85 percent of the people must struggle for an equitable share,” the ambassador said.
Presenting grim figures for the member states of the OAS, Sir Ronald emphasized that only two counties have managed to give one shot of vaccines to more than 10 percent of their populations – the United States at 12 percent and Chile at 10 percent.
Only three other countries, he added, have inoculated more than one percent of their people, but “none of the remaining 29 member states have sufficient vaccines to inoculate more than 0.95 percent of their people”.
The diplomat also warned wealthy countries that even if they are fully vaccinated by the middle of this year, and poor countries remain largely shut out, “the global economy would suffer losses exceeding US$9 trillion, a sum greater than the annual output of Japan and Germany combined”.
“No one will benefit,” Sir Ronald said. “We are truly all in this together.”