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PAHO says that the need for vaccines in Latin America is greater than what Covax will provide

According to Ciro Ugarte, the region needs more funding for medication, personal protective equipment, and tests to respond to the new COVID-19 surge

Photo: Valdo Leão / Semcom Manaus/ Fotos Públicas
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  • This week Brazil’s Anvisa denied the import of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine;
  • The WHO said that the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca that will be donated by the U.S. government are in negotiations so that, through the Covax Facility, these doses can be used in countries of greatest need at this time.

In a conference with the WHO (World Health Organization) on Friday, Ciro Ugarte, Director of Health Emergencies at Pan American Health Organization PAHO/WHO, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard-hitting the Southern Cone and the Andean region, as Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Guyana, and Argentina are rising infections and hospitalization of young people. They are more exposed to the virus and have not been vaccinated.

Latin America and the Caribbean require more vaccines, there are 7 million doses via Covax for LAC, but the need is much greater, as many countries cannot rely on partnerships with laboratories.”

According to Ugarte, the region needs more funding for medication, personal protective equipment, and tests to respond to the new COVID-19 surge.

At the meeting, Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga was in solidarity with the relatives of the 400,000 victims of COVID-19 in Brazil and said that thanks to successful partnerships with AstraZeneca and Sinovac, Brazil today produces all vaccines used to immunize Brazilians through the laboratories Fiocruz and Butantan Institute.

“We count on China and we have received all the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient necessary for local production. Yesterday we received 1 million doses of Pfizer and we will have in Brazil all four vaccines already authorized by Anvisa (Brazilian regulatory agency).”

READ ALSO: COVID-19 and its effects in Latin America

This week Anvisa denied the import of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which in Latin America has already been approved for use in Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

According to Queiroga, Anvisa is a state agency with autonomy to resist political positions for approval by Sputnik V, and said that the Brazilian government met with Russian President Vladimir Putin stating that as soon as Anvisa approves the immunizer, it will be applied. “We will wait for Anvisa’s manifestation.”

Russian Gamaleya Institute filed for an emergency use of Sputnik V at WHO, which carried out clinical inspections in April and from May onwards will inspect the production of Sputnik V at the Institute. WHO expects the full dossier to be ready in July.

In addition, the WHO said that the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca that will be donated by the U.S. government are in negotiations so that, through the Covax Facility, these doses can be used in countries of greatest need at this time.

Brazil has also joined the WHO’s Covax Facility to receive doses that will immunize 10% of the population. According to Queiroga, in April, Brazil reached a record of 1.7 million vaccines applied in just one day. The minister said that the country can vaccinate 2.4 million people every day.

READ ALSO: Even with downward trend of COVID-19 infections, Brazil reaches the sad mark of 400,000 deaths

According to Queiroga, 75% of the Brazilian indigenous population has already taken the first dose of the vaccine and 58% has already received the second dose, with more than 500,000 doses applied.

Tedros Adhanom, Director-general of the WHO, said that even as cases are declining in Brazil for 4 weeks in a row, no country can ever let down its guard. “Brazil has a long public investment in primary health care, but the pandemic has hit Brazil‘s health system hard.”

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