CARICOM Heads set sights on COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in Region
(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana) – Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have agreed to explore a regional strategy for manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines in the Region. This comes as they note the challenges in achieving desired levels of vaccination against the disease.
The Communique issued following the conclusion of the 33rd Inter-Sessional Meeting which was held 1-2 March 2022, in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, also recorded the Heads of Government’s agreement to mount a regional campaign to combat the disinformation that encourages vaccine hesitancy.
Even as Member States begin to relax some of the stringent protocols they used to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus, Heads of Government stressed the need for the continuation of masking, testing, as well as isolation and quarantine.
In that regard, they supported recommendations by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for safe and sustainable air and sea travel to protect the Region. Those efforts include the establishment a COVID-19 surveillance database called the Tourism and Health Information System (THiS), and the facilitation of knowledge-sharing and capacity-building in COVD-19 guidelines. Through the latter, CARPHA has trained over 7 900 industry operators.
Heads of Government acknowledged the role CARPHA, the CARICOM Secretariat, the Regional Security System (RSS), other CARICOM institutions, and the Pan-American Health Organisation continue to play in coordinating a comprehensive regional response to COVID-19.
They urged Member States to continue supporting this multi-sectoral and inter-sectoral regional public health response.
The Communique said Heads of Government continue to be cognisant of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for Member States to re-imagine their development strategies. In this context, they also recognised the need for global economic engagement towards building back better with more sustainable and resilient economies. They mandated the Caribbean Development Bank to coordinate the formulation of a regional resource mobilisation strategy to raise the funding required to drive a regional economic recovery programme.