US vaccine donation won’t help Jamaica achieve herd immunity but step in right direction – Holness

Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness at the virtual press briefing on May 31.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that the US government’s plans to donate six million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Caribbean is a step in the right direction.

Despite the relatively large allocation earmarked for the region, Holness said the amount would not be enough to help Jamaica achieve herd immunity.

“We welcome it and appreciate it as a continuing example, for rich countries, who have surpluses to make them available right across the world,” said Holness.

“Not necessarily entirely by grant, but certainly available for purchase. Jamaica has put aside the fiscal resources to purchase the vaccines that we need, so we welcome grants but we also want equitable access,” added Holness.

US President Joe Biden on June 3 confirmed plans to share nearly 19 million vaccine doses through the COVAX facility.

“We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values,” said Biden in a statement.

“And we will continue to follow the science and to work in close cooperation with our democratic partners to coordinate a multilateral effort, including through the G7,” he added.

Critics of Biden’s plan say the allocation is a drop in the bucket as it relates to what is needed in the region.

The US’ growing stockpile of vaccines has been seen as a glaring example of its privilege due to its  wealth.

Biden’s vaccine sharing plan comes only after a sharp decline in demand with the US reporting that more than 63 per cent of its adult population have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

To date approximately 6% of Jamaicans have received at least one dose and less than 1% have received both doses.

Jamaica is anticipated to inoculate close to 20 per cent of its population by year end.