COVID19 VACCINES: challenges, weaknesses and opportunities in the region

UNESCO presented the report Covid-19 and vaccination in Latin America: Challenges, Needs and Opportunities, which delves into the production, access and distribution of vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, a debate was held in which the main challenges that the region must take on were identified.

The report analyzes the vaccination plans of all the countries of the region, showing that some populations such as Afro-descendants, indigenous people, and people in situations of human mobility, have not been prioritized in most plans.

In addition, the document delves into the capacities that the countries of the region have to produce vaccines against Covid-19, highlighting that only three countries are partial or total producers of some of the vaccines against the coronavirus. Some countries are making very important efforts originated from the region in the research and development of vaccines against the coronavirus, which are in different phases.

During the launch event, a panel was held with the participation of Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO; Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC; and Soledad Garcia Muñoz, Rapporteur on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the IACHR; with the moderation of Lidia Brito, UNESCO Regional Director of Sciences for Latin America and the Caribbean.

"A good vaccination policy is the best economic policy for the recovery of our countries,"

said Gabriela Ramos during her intervention. She insisted that vaccine should be a global public good and called for prioritizing the strengthening of LAC health systems and improving regional cooperation.

“We cannot waste this crisis. We have to learn what we have done well but also learn from the vulnerabilities that have been exposed ”, Ramos concluded.

Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary, warned of the seriousness of living in "a world with islands of immunity and solidarity deficits". Bárcena shared that ECLAC and CELAC are leading a regional platform for the production of vaccines from the region and invited UNESCO to participate in it. She agreed with Ramos that "the region has to move towards greater self-sufficiency in vaccines and medicines, with regional coordination mechanisms."

During her intervention, Soledad García Muñoz, made a call to consider prioritization criteria in vaccination based on human rights. "The pandemic demonstrates the levels of inequality and structural discrimination in our region". In accordance with the UNESCO document, she encouraged prioritizing populations traditionally excluded and discriminated against and who have not yet been vaccinated.

Lidia Brito closed the event, highlighting the importance of generating more evidence on the vaccination situation in the region, and the need to make more investment in science and technology for the potential development of vaccines in LAC countries.

With the publication of this report, UNESCO calls for considering the vaccine as a universal public good and ensuring its equitable, affordable and timely access. In addition, it insists on redoubling scientific and technological cooperation to accelerate the production of vaccines and thus guarantee access to the largest number of people in the shortest possible time.

Access the deferred event here