The Antigua and Barbuda government says China is making available one billion dollars that will be used for loans to Latin America and the Caribbean to purchase vaccines to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A statement issued following the weekly Cabinet meeting, did not indicate whether or not the government is considering making use of the facility as it “articulated a clear vaccination policy in light of the announcements that two US pharmaceutical firms have announced the successful trials of the COVID-19 vaccine”.
The statement said that China, Russia and Cuba have also announced successes and that “China has set aside more than one billion US dollars for loans to Latin American and Caribbean countries that can be utilized to purchase their vaccine”.
The Cabinet recalled that Antigua and Barbuda has paid for an initial supply of 20,000 doses of vaccines to be acquired through the pan American Health Organisation and the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
“The Cabinet agreed that among the first volunteers to receive the vaccine will be those first responders, teachers and doctors, elected officials, and others who serve the public,” the statement said, adding that the Ministry of Health will hold a news conference shortly that will be peopled by doctors, nurses, experts who can be clear about this and other vaccines”.
Antigua and Barbuda has recorded 138 positive cases of COVID-19 and four deaths since the first case of the virus was detected in China last December. Figures show that 1.34 million people have died and 55.6 million others have become infected worldwide as a result of the virus.