JAMAICA | Holness again calls for greater access to vaccines for small countries

Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness

KINGSTON,  Jamaica, May 26, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrew Holness has once again renewed his call for greater access to resources such as vaccines for the Caribbean and Africa particularly in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Addressing Africa Day Webinar yesterday, Prime Minister Holness said: “Africa cannot be denied opportunities, nor can the Caribbean, if we are to truly advance the ethos that ‘no one must be left behind.”

"It cannot be morally justified that rich countries, many of whom gained their wealth and scientific advantage through the exploitation of Africa and its people, now use this wealth and scientific advantage to hoard and stockpile vaccines while the poor and historically exploited and deprived countries, wait in uncertainty to access equitable and consistent supplies, their populations at risk and their economies on pause. It would be the greatest setback for mankind, if inequitable vaccine access were to cause uneven recovery and a widening of the development gap between rich and poor globally,” Mr. Holiness continued.

In the meantime, the Jamaican Prime Minister has commended the Government of the Republic of South Africa and President Cyril Ramaphosa for his vision in establishing the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust and the African Medical Supplies Platform.  He further expressed appreciation for their kindness in allowing CARICOM countries such as Jamaica to have access and participation in such initiatives.

Holness said, “this has not only become a critical lifeline for our COVID-19 vaccination response, but a flagship example of South-South Cooperation on critical developmental matters, leveraging the purchasing power of Africa as a whole on behalf of smaller more dispersed populations.”

Mr. Holness  has joined with President Ramaphosa and a number of African and Jamaican delegates in celebration of Africa Day 2021 under the theme, “A conversation with Africa; A destiny of peace, prosperity, strength and unity”

Africa Day is intended to commemorate and acknowledge African solidarity, Unity in diversity, creativity, challenges and successes. This occasion gives a chance to reflect on the progress made through cooperation in the anti-apartheid and liberation struggle and an opportunity to craft meaningful agendas in unity towards finding solutions to challenges.

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On Friday, The major western drug makers, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and BioNTech  have pledged to give 1 billion doses of their Covid vaccine to low- and middle-income countries by the end of this year, and another billion over the course of 2022.

The commitments were made at a summit of Group of 20 nations on Friday, where leaders pledged to prioritize multilateralism to tackle the virus and prevent future outbreaks. 

Pfizer’s numbers amount to 1 billion doses in 2022 for low and middle-income countries, on top of a similar target for this year. Moderna is also planning to deliver more shots, while Johnson and Johnson said it’s in talks to supply 300 million in 2022.

“We will not be safe until everyone is protected across the world,” Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, told the summit.

It’s not yet clear if these donations will go through the Covax initiative, which has struggled to gain momentum, especially as halted exports from India have put its largest supplier behind on delivering doses

To make up for the shortfall, GAVI, one of the organizations behind Covax, agreed today to buy 200 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Leaders at the G20 committed to a series of actions to accelerate the end of the COVID-19 crisis everywhere and better prepare for future pandemics, at a summit co-hosted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, as G20 chair.

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