May 16, 2021 Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris on Friday called on the United States and other vaccine-producing countries to ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccine needed to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COID-19) that has killed thousands of people in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.
Harris, who also has lead responsibility for Health within the quasi-CARICOM cabinet, said the greater effort is needed from larger countries with greater resources, like the United States, to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines globally, and particularly within CARICOM.
“The US is the most important partner to the CARICOM member states, and St. Kitts and Nevis in particular. It supplies us with the largest intake of tourists, and it is the market for most of what we export,” Harris said on the US-based Bloomberg QuickTake, a global streaming news network.
“What we really would have loved to see is that the US would have shown early leadership in terms of support to the region as we fight a most dangerous pandemic. The US at this moment has excess vaccines.
“The Caribbean region needs vaccines desperately and in the short term, we would require the United States of America to make a portion of those excess vaccines available to CARICOM member states, including St. Kitts and Nevis,” Prime Minister Harris said during the programme.
Harris told the programme that his twin-island Federation’s vaccination process is progressing reasonably well, despite some levels of vaccine hesitancy amongst the population.
“We have about 42 percent of our target population covered; covered meaning they at least had their first shot of the vaccine. The vaccine of choice here is the AstraZeneca vaccine and that is of course a two-dose regime.
“So, we are moving on the path of getting to the target population which is 70 percent of our population. We still have a significant journey to go but we are satisfied to date that in the short of some 10 weeks we have been able to cover 42 percent of the target,” he added.
Prime Minister Harris said that as the Federation moves towards its vaccination target of 70 percent he will continue his advocacy on behalf of the wider Caribbean region for the equitable distribution of vaccines.
Earlier this week, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, speaking at the Grantley Adams International Airport during a handover ceremony of 33,600 COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX Facility, reiterated the need for a global summit on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
“If ever there was a need for the world to stand up and recognize that we need a global summit for coordinated action with respect to how we treat to the COVID pandemic, how we treat to the equitable distribution of vaccines, how we treat to the restricted movement of people and countries in a coordinated way to give the global community the best chance of putting this behind us, it is now,” Mottley said.
“In the spring meetings that just concluded for the World Bank and the IMF, we were clear that there is going to be no serious global recovery economically until we wrestle COVID-19 to the ground. We cannot wrestle COVID-19 to the ground unless there is vaccine equity and unless there is coordinated actions across countries and not by single countries one by one,” she added.
Prime Minister Mottley insisted that at the global level, there was nothing stopping leaders from hosting a global summit, other than themselves.