As the world grapples to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) on February 17 insisted on the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. A resolution which was sponsored by CARICOM was adopted by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States by acclamation.
The Resolution was presented on behalf of CARICOM by Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador, Ronald Sanders, who was the architect of the original resolution and who was the chief negotiator for its adoption along with Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer, the Chair of the CARICOM caucus.
In the resolution, CARICOM has expressed gratitude to the Government of India for generously supplying beneficial quantities of the Serum Institute made Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to several Caribbean countries. At the same time, CARICOM in its resolution also expressed great concerns over developed countries representing less than 15% of the world’s population have already purchased more than 50% of the most promising vaccine candidates.
Ambassador Sanders explained that while the majority of developing states, including in Latin America and the Caribbean, are still without stocks of vaccines, "some developed countries have ordered vaccines, in one case five times the size of its population, and are hoarding them, at a time when they are desperately needed throughout the world".
He cited studies which indicate that some of the world’s rich nations, representing only 15% of the global population have bought 60% of the available vaccines.
Ambassador Sanders said, "The world will not survive if 15% of the world holds for itself 60% of vaccines, and 85% of the people must struggle for an equitable share."
The Antigua and Barbuda diplomat also warned wealthy countries that even if they are fully vaccinated by the middle of this year, and poor countries remain largely shut out, the global economy would suffer losses exceeding USD 9 trillion, a sum greater than the annual output of Japan and Germany combined.
"No one will benefit, We are truly all in this together", he said.
India has supplied Covid-19 vaccines to over 20 countries under its vaccine Maitri initiative as a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pledge to assist other countries to combat and overcome the challenges of the pandemic. India on February 8 dispatched two consignments of Covishield Covid-19 vaccines to the countries of Barbados and Dominica, a part of CARICOM, under the Vaccine Maitri initiative. Moreover, India had announced a humanitarian donation of 5.7 lakh doses of vaccines for the Caribbean Region.
The vaccine diplomacy which started with the supply of vaccines to neighbouring countries has now broadened its ambit by supplying it to distant countries having friendly ties with the Union of India. Among the neighbouring countries including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, which received the Indian made Coronavirus vaccines.
India provided over 229 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines to various countries out of which 64 lakh doses have been supplied as grant assistance and 165 lakh on a commercial basis, the External Affairs Ministry said on February 12.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said consignments of coronavirus vaccine doses were supplies as gifts to Bangladesh (20 lakh), Myanmar (17 lakh), Nepal (10 lakh), Bhutan (1.5 lakh), the Maldives (1 lakh), Mauritius (1 lakh), Seychelles (50,000), Sri Lanka (5 lakh), Bahrain (1 lakh), Oman (1 lakh), Afghanistan (5 Lakhs), Barbados (1 Lakh) and Dominica (70,000).
He said countries which received vaccines on a commercial basis are Brazil (20 lakh), Morocco (60 lakh), Bangladesh (50 lakh), Myanmar (20 lakh), Egypt (50,000), Algeria (50,000), South Africa (10 lakh), Kuwait (2 lakh) and UAE (2 lakh).
(With inputs from Agencies, Image credit: PTI)