Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

The founders of the Covax mechanism, an initiative led by the World Health Organization, United Nations, and the Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI) that seeks to guarantee access to the vaccine against covid-19 to developing countries, have announced this Wednesday that the distribution of your first doses will begin at the end of February. Cox plans to deliver 337 million doses of the drugs produced by Pfizer and AstraZeneca to the 187 countries that have used this mechanism in the first half of 2021. About 10% of the vaccines of this first delivery are destined for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean: 35.6 million doses are destined for 33 countries in the region. Among them, Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru have been selected for the Primera Ola pilot program, aimed at measuring the reach of resources and testing drug distribution programs. Together, these four countries will receive the first delivery of 378,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of this month.

While countries such as Brazil and Chile have begun to apply the Sinovac vaccine, produced in China, and Argentina becomes the great ambassador of the Russian vaccine in the region, most of the countries expect to receive the drugs from the United States’ Pfizer and the British AstraZeneca from Covax, which plans to take 2 billion vaccines off the market in 2021 for its 187 partners and 92 other low- and middle-income countries that do not have the resources to purchase them. In Latin America, most of the vaccines will go to countries that participate in the financing of the program, such as Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, or Peru. Others, such as El Salvador, Bolivia, Haiti, and Nicaragua will receive their doses from a special financing mechanism.

Of the 337 million doses whose distribution and destination countries have been presented this Wednesday, 336 million will be those developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and 1.2 million by Pfizer-BioNTech, according to the detail given by Seth Berkley, director of GAVI.

During the first delivery, Mexico will receive 6,472,800 doses; Argentina, 2,275,200 Brazil, 10,672,800 Colombia, 2,670,600; Chile, 957,600 Ecuador, 885,600 Paraguay, 357,600 and Peru expects the arrival of 1,770,600 vaccines. In the case of all these countries, the number of doses is equivalent to 5% of their population. Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras will collectively receive more than 2.2 million doses. Panama, for its part, will receive 216,000 doses in the first delivery; Haiti will receive another 876,000; and the Dominican Republic expects the delivery of 542,400, according to the schedule published this Wednesday by GAVI.

Among the First Wave countries, the delivery of the vaccine by Covax is especially encouraging. Peru planned to receive the first million doses before February 10 from the Chinese laboratory Sinopharm, and this Wednesday it announced that the delivery is uncertain due to the cancellation of the KLM airline flights from China. Colombia, for its part, hopes to start immunization on the 20th of this month with 117,000 of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and some 200,000 from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac. El Salvador has not disclosed its vaccination plan or the start date.

However, the Pan American Health OrganizationHe stressed that it will be one of the first countries to receive vaccines through the Covax mechanism because it already has the structure to distribute the drug in the country. Bolivia, which last week received the delivery of 20,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine and has already begun immunization among front-line health personnel, has also been congratulated by the UN for being one of the first countries to receive the vaccine, even though your current plan does not present updated data.

Only eight countries in the region have started immunization against covid-19. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Panama have vaccination programs underway, although all are progressing slowly on average, 0.2% of the population has been vaccinated, just a few thousand people. The region is close to 600,000 deaths from covid, almost one in every thousand people and amid delays political tensions and the weakness of public health the vast majority are closer to reimposing strict isolation measures than to thinking about immunization.