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The world calls on G7 countries

InternationalThe world calls on G7 countries

WASHINGTON, DC, USA, Wed. June 17, 2021– Latin America and the Caribbean are disproportionately being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and these countries need increased accessibility to vaccines. According to the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne, actions must be scaled up to better assist the region, and she calls on G7 countries to play a role in making this happen.

Only 10% of the more than 600 million people who live in the Latin American and Caribbean region have been vaccinated, and the number of COVID-19 cases in many countries in the region are surging; also, hospitals are at maximum capacity and variants are rapidly circulating. It’s estimated that the American region had over 1.1 million new cases coupled with 31,000 deaths in the last week alone. Additionally, for some time, four of the five countries with the most recorded COVID-19 deaths worldwide have been located in the Americas.

PAHO noted that most of the nations in the region have been experiencing a rise in the number of cases. In the Caribbean, the majority of new cases were reported in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Trinidad and Tobago has consistently reported high mortality rates. Belize too has an increased number of cases. On the other hand, Dr. Etienne noted that the number of cases in countries like Costa Rica and Honduras has finally begun to decline.

 Dr. Etienne said, “While vaccines are needed everywhere, we hope G7 nations will prioritize doses for countries at greatest risk.”  She further noted, “I want to be clear that the primary issue in the Americas is vaccine access, not vaccine acceptance… Across Latin America and the Caribbean, we have a long legacy in immunization and trust in the life-saving power of vaccines. Once new doses are available, countries are ready to distribute them as quickly as they arrive and PAHO will work tirelessly to get vaccines to every corner in our region, until this pandemic is behind us.”

While the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) had pledged earlier this week in an in-person summit, to donate 1 billion vaccines to countries in need, Etienne calls for donations to be issued as swiftly as possible. She stated, “These doses cannot come soon enough, so we urge G7 countries not to delay their donations. We need the vaccines now.”

Following the G7 summit there have also been calls for other measures to enable developing countries to deal with the pandemic, including the relaxation of the enforcement of intellectual property rights related to the production of treatments and vaccines. Oxfam’s health policy manager, Anna Marriott, has said, “If the best G7 leaders can manage is to donate one billion vaccine doses, then this summit will have been a failure… Presidents Biden (US president) and Macron (France’s president) have supported a waiver on the intellectual property behind COVID vaccines – the other G7 nations should follow their lead. The lives of millions of people in developing countries should never be dependent on the goodwill of rich nations and profit-hungry pharmaceutical corporations.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had also submitted a letter endorsed by a pool of celebrities to the G7 countries to urge them to scale up efforts in the management of the coronavirus. The letter was signed by the likes of up-and-coming pop sensation, Billie Eilish; soccer legend, David Beckham; and pop stars, Katy Perry and Liam Payne, among many others. Additionally, over 100 former prime ministers, presidents and foreign ministers urged the G7 leaders to deposit at least two-thirds of the 55.5 billion US dollars needed to vaccinate the populations of low-income countries.

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