© Reuters. On July 19, 2021, a health worker vaccinated a woman with the first dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Saint Damian Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo
Julia Sims Cobb
Bogota (Reuters)-The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday that the Americas are facing an unvaccinated pandemic because it warned that countries with low vaccination rates are seeing an increase in COVID-19 and has repeatedly called for donations of vaccines .
“We are facing an unvaccinated pandemic, and the only way to stop it is to expand vaccination,” Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, said at a weekly briefing. “Vaccines are vital, even if there is no vaccine, it is 100% effective.”
She said that only 15% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated, adding that this number masks that some countries such as Honduras and Haiti have not even reached the 1% vaccination rate.
Etienne again called on countries with sufficient doses to distribute them to countries in need as soon as possible.
“We obviously need more vaccines, and we need them now,” she said. “At present, vaccine donation is indeed the only way for many countries in our region to quickly obtain the required dose.”
“Please don’t wait until you have an extra dose. You need to share what you have now,” Etienne said.
She added that the beginning of vaccinations in Haiti-the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise into deeper turmoil-highlights that countries are ready to accept vaccine donations.
Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, said that by the end of July, the COVAX mechanism will send another 3.7 million doses of vaccine to countries in the region.
He added that the Pan American Health Organization is working closely with the United States to overcome the logistical challenges of delivering donations.
Etienne said that the Americas reported 967,000 new cases and 22,000 deaths last week, a slight decline each week.
She said that cases in most of Central America and the smaller Caribbean islands are accelerating, while the number of cases and deaths in Cuba is soaring, and there are still hot spots in the Amazon regions of Colombia and Peru.
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