CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana - Tuesday, 6 July 2021) - After months of lobbying third states and international institutions for them to share their supplies of COVID-19 vaccines with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Region is now closer to inoculating “as many citizens as possible,” Outgoing Chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago said on Monday, 5 July.
He gave this update to the opening ceremony of the 42nd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, as he summarized the achievements of his leadership from 1 January - July 1. The Meeting is being held virtually for the second consecutive year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Rowley said his “clarion call, strategic engagement and advocacy with high level office holders in key capitals” have resulted in offers of COVID-19 vaccines from various channels.
Those include an offer for CARICOM to purchase Johnson and Johnson vaccines through the African Medical Supplies Platform, and more recently, the Biden-Harris administration’s announcement that part of its allocation of 55 million doses of vaccines for global distribution, is for Haiti and other CARICOM Member States.
He said these vaccine channels would ensure that CARICOM citizens are protected from evolving mutations of the virus, and that the Region returns safely and sooner to livelihoods.
“Through it all, we have rallied and we now stand on somewhat firmer ground as a result of the coordination and collaboration among Member States, Associate Members and our Institutions.”
He told his colleague Heads of Government not to take lightly the solidarity, the respect, the caring, and the spirit of Community that exist among them. Highlighting examples, he pointed to CARICOM’s support in quelling tensions between Guyana and Venezuela earlier this year; and the outpouring of regional solidarity to Members States impacted by the eruption of the La Soufrière Volcano and recent flooding.
Noting that mobilizing of assistance to Suriname is ongoing, following record rainfall and flooding disaster there, he said those events and the already active hurricane season are stark reminders of the Region’s vulnerability.
“It stresses the importance of continuing to engage the wider global Community and International Financial Institutions, on the peculiar circumstances adversely affecting our sustainable development including threats to our financial and socio-economic structures,” the outgoing chair stated, adding that he used every opportunity to highlight those concerns, over the past six months.