Caribbean and Latin America Countries to Produce mRNA Vaccines
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) launched a new platform on September 1, 2021, to ease the severe shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean.
So far, about 23% of people in the PAHO region have been fully COVID-19 vaccinated, and coverage is much lower in many countries.
During a recent virtual meeting, PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne announced the Regional Platform to Advance the Manufacturing of COVID-19 Vaccines and other Health Technologies in the Americas.”
She described it as an initiative that will “coordinate across sectors – health, science and technology, and industry - to strengthen their capacity to produce new technologies.”
Explaining the need for the platform, Dr. Etienne added, “limited (global) production and unequal distribution of vaccines in the face of staggering demand hinder our COVID response."
"Mass vaccination is critical if we are to stem the tide of this pandemic and hinder the spread of further variants.”
“Vaccination rates remain in the teens in several Caribbean and South American countries, and coverage is still in the single digits in Central American nations like Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua,” she continued.
Dr. Etienne said that in total, 540 million COVID-19 vaccine doses must be delivered to ensure that all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean can cover at least 60% of their populations.
“So we must expand vaccine access in our region, especially in the places that are lagging,” she said.
The first initiative under the platform is to facilitate the transfer to the region of the mRNA vaccine technology used in highly effective COVID-19 vaccines. The PAHO has received 32 proposals from private and public companies that want to participate in the endeavor.
The platform will support collaboration across countries and cooperation agencies, applying existing regional biomanufacturing capacity to the production of COVID-19 vaccines and other medical technologies. The principle is that manufacture should benefit the entire region, with regional pharmaceutical production and distribution of the vaccines by PAHO’s Revolving Fund to all countries.