After some delays, Jamaica saw the arrival of the first smaller batch of 14.400 doses of covid-19 vaccine the country is bound to receive under the COVAX facility on Monday, March 15th. COVAX is a global initiative under the umbrella of the United Nations and the World Health Organization to procure vaccine for developing countries and emerging economies either free of cost to them or partially funded in order to inoculate 20 percent of humanity living in these parts of the world. COVAX as the vaccine procurement facility is part of a larger global fund abbreviated ACT-A, which stands for Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, which includes funding for development and production of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, and the strengthening of public health systems.
Unfortunately, the arrival of the shipment was accompanied once again with the now familiar complaint, that the delay was due to vaccine hoarding by the “rich” countries, and Europe was named as the first culprit in this context. While the real reasons for the delay have already been made public by the media, it needs to be emphasized that COVAX and ACT-A would not be where it is now without funding from the EU and its member states, with Germany being the single biggest contributor to ACT-A today to the tune of 2 billion Euro. The EU as a whole has contributed over one third of total funding, and Germany about 20 percent. We might not have been in the picture at the airport for the reception of the shipment for Jamaica, but that is where the money, or at least a very substantial part of it, is coming from.
As the Caribbean countries covered by COVAX are, with the exception of Haiti, middle income and not developing countries, they are expected to contribute financially. The down-payment due of 2 million USD was made for them, and this includes Jamaica, by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) back in October. These funds were, again, made available by the European Union, but this somehow did not make it into the notes of those who spoke to the media.
Whereas India, which has rightfully been praised for his generous gift of 50.000 doses to the people of Jamaica, assists in the global fight against the pandemic through bilateral forms of assistance, the EU and its Member States had decided early on to use multilateral mechanisms to channel its very substantial contributions to the joint effort. This might be less visible, more technically complex and harder to communicate to the general public - but
it should still receive its due credit from the appropriate authorities.