AstraZeneca Vaccines Get WHO Approval

The COVID-19 situation remains very worrying, and news arrives thick and fast. As of yesterday (Sunday, February 14) Jamaica has a total of 19, 035 cases – with 270 new cases yesterday. We have 6,096 active cases. 245 are in hospital, with 44 moderately ill and 21 critically ill (these numbers creep up a little each day). The positivity rate has been hovering around 20 percent (last year, the WHO suggested that this rate should not rise about five percent – ours is four times that!)

Moreover, 19 people have passed away from COVID-19 in the past seven days (February 7 – 14). Over the same period, we have had 1,891 new cases. And we must remember, as Health and Wellness Minister Christopher Tufton told us a while back, that these are the official figures; they don’t represent what is currently happening out there in full. At between 1,000 and 1,500 samples tested daily, are we testing enough?

So now, some good news. Jamaica is sticking by the COVAX Facility and so it is good to know that the WHO has approved two vaccines to be rolled out. We hope this will speed up the arrival of vaccines on our shores; several Caribbean islands, such as Barbados, are already vaccinating their citizens. However, it seems they were not waiting for COVAX. We are taking a cautious approach.

Quoting Minister Tufton (below): “Immunization – the process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination – has proven to be one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions ever.”

Flanked by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dunstan Bryan (left) and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie, Minister Christopher Tufton speaks at a press briefing in March, 2020 – the month that COVID-19 arrived in Jamaica. (Photo: JIS)

AstraZeneca Vaccines Get WHO Approval

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Monday, February15, 2021: The World Health Organization (WHO) today listed two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through COVAX. The vaccines are produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India.

“This is good news for us, as a country, as we move closer to the introduction of vaccines in the island, as part of our COVID-19 response. We can now further seek out other sources that have these approved vaccines available, even as we anticipate the arrival of some doses of these COVID-19 Vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca in the coming weeks through the COVAX facility,” said Dr. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness.

The COVAX (COVID-19 Global Access) Facility brings together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society, and philanthropy to provide innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“Vaccination has proven an undeniable success in the public health toolkit to reduce the burden of infectious disease in Jamaica as well as globally. Immunization – the process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination – has proven to be one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions ever,” Dr. Tufton added.

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