PM Harris scolds wealthy nations on access to vaccines

By MyVue Staff Reporter

Basseterre, 8th April, 2021 (MyVue world shortage of COVID-19 vaccines is already having a negative effect on small countries, like St. Kitts & Nevis, but the same challenges are also being faced by even those larger states that are classified as developing nations.

So called, first world nations in Europe as well as the United States have been keeping most of the vaccines manufactured in their country, all to themselves.

The G7 countries possess 64% of the world’s wealth and have a very high human development index. Member countries also represent 46% of the global GDP.
“Already we are aware that about 76 percent of all vaccines have been purchased by nine of the wealthiest countries in the world,” argues the Kittitian leader.

There are challenges of equity, challenges of solidarity, challenges of where the world will go, whether we will go together, or we will have each one fighting for itself,” stated Harris.

As the situation worsens and countries in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, cry out for more vaccines to help protect their citizens, very little has been done. Even the World Health Organization, WHO, has for months, made an appeal o behalf of poorer nations.

Now, one Caribbean Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, of St. Kitts & Nevis, has issued a call to those richer countries to show some compassion and solidarity to help Small Island Developing States (SIDS), get their hands on vaccines to inoculate their people.

It is not sure if they will listen to Harris, who is also the lead spokesman in the quasi CARICOM Cabinet, on the subject of health.

He said, “I want to reiterate a call I made earlier to the G7 countries—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the USA (United States of America), as well as to the EU (European Union) to do more to make vaccines available to small, vulnerable nations and those in need.”  

The prime minister pleaded, not only for his country of just over 54,000 people, but said, “In my capacity As Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and in my role as CARICOM Lead Head for Human Resources, Health, and HIV, I want again to call on the wealthier nations to do more to assist developing countries.”

Additionally, he said, “Countries with power are able to control supply chains. Countries with resources, countries which are rich, always determine market forces, whether it is oil, or it is sugar, they will determine because they have the resources and the power structures to do so.”

To date St. Kitts & Nevis has vaccinated just slightly under 10,000 persons, as it continues an aggressive program to inoculate 33,000 citizens and residents, before October, this year.

The country has received some 43,600 doses of the  Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine. The first batch was a gift from the Government of Dominica, with 2,000, then another gift of 20,000 from the Government of India. From those two batches, St. Kitts & Nevis gifted 2,000 doses to Grenada.

Harris has made the point that “The world will not fully recover if we have the vaccine haves and the vaccine have nots, and that is where again, the solidarity, the coming together becomes important, and an entity like COVAX assumes greater relevance and importance to us in this part of the globe,” he said.

Then on Wednesday, 7th April,2021, the country received a third shipment with 21,600, through the COVAX facility.
Harris reminded, “In the context of vaccines, for example, there is no producer within the Caribbean region. The producers are all elsewhere, in the United Kingdom, in the USA, and those countries by nature of their own policies can determine who gets.”

He added, “We have already seen in Europe where some countries took the decision that they will restrict exports of vaccines until they were satisfied that the producers could deliver the quantities that they had committed to them. That is one example of why we need international solidarity, a common approach, and a common commitment to equitable access to the vaccines.”

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