The Director of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) said “We cannot pin all our hope on vaccines.”
Dr Carissa F. Etienne, speaking at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, said while the region should prepare for a vaccine, it cannot pin all hope on it.
She added: “There are no silver bullets. Even if we find a vaccine, the virus will continue to spread.”
Etienne said while the organisation hopes a vaccine will be found soon, it may take a few tries to find the right one.
“We don’t yet know which would be found safe and how it will work but we do know if we don’t prepare now, we will miss the opportunity to benefit from it quickly. Countries cannot wait to have all of the answers before they start planning and preparing to deliver a covid19 vaccine”
She said the region has a “strong legacy” of immunisation programmes that provides an advantage. She said the Covax facility, convened by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and the World Health Organisation (WHO), will afford countries in the region the best opportunity to fast track access to a vaccine, reducing the impact of the pandemic. Covax is a global collaboration with 170 countries and economies, TT included, to accelerate the development and manufacture of covid19 vaccines.
“Through Covax, participating countries will be able to access vaccines for 3 per cent of their population in the first stages of development and when supplies catch up with global demand, reaching 20 per cent of population.”
She said once a vaccine has been found, countries in the region will have to work together to validate the findings. As for the distribution of the vaccines, Etienne said it is recommended front line workers, first responders and those caring for the elderly would be vaccinated first, followed by vulnerable groups such as adults with pre-existing conditions, especially those over 65 years of age.