As one of six nations that will receive support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the rollout of a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program, Belize aims to secure 120,000 vaccines in first quarter before April 2021. Belize, like many other Latin American and Caribbean countries, is in partnership with the COVAX Facility for the procurement and deployment of vaccines. Thanks to initial funding from the IDB of about $400,000, Belize has paid the first portion of our commitment to the COVAX facility, covering about 30% of our population. This rollout is projected to commence by the first quarter of 2021, says the president of the IDB, Mauricio Claver-Carone. While the vaccine is projected to become available in Belize, the specific brand or type of vaccine that will be rolled out is not yet known. This decision is left up to the Pan American Health Organization and the COVAX facility and will depend, naturally, on availability.
An aggressive timeline
The Caribbean has been disproportionately hit by COVID, which is why the coming months will be critical to altering the course of the pandemic and supporting the recovery of our region. For this reason, the IDB is being bold and proactive. On December 21, Amandala Belize participated in a media discussion organized by the IDB, where President Claver-Carone offered a few statements.
“We are [also] preparing an investment operation and a joint guarantee of about five million dollars which will be approved in 2021, and that is to buy and deploy more vaccines as necessary; but this was just what was done initially to ensure as expeditiously as possible that Belizeans have access to the vaccine.”
– President of the IDB, Mauricio Claver-Carone
Still, there is still no absolute guarantee that local government or international partners will have all necessary frameworks in place to carry out national inoculation programs across Latin America and the Caribbean. “We’re doing our job to make sure that money isn’t an excuse; but we need to get there fast, we’re going to continue advocating for it. I think it is realistic, but more importantly, I think we need to make it realistic,” Claver-Carone urged.
To get back to travel, the world needs herd immunity, thought to be achieved when about 70 percent of the population has protective antibodies. Every country needs herd immunity for travel to resume the way it did pre-pandemic. While COVID-19 continues to be novel, including a more transmissible strain detected in late 2020, that 70 percent may go up to 90 percent for effective immunity. Yet, enough people in 2021 can be vaccinated against—and immune from—COVID-19 for a safe return for jet setters (or at least less-risky vacations). However, travelers must not abandon the measures we already know help reduce the risk of transmission; this includes face masks, good hygiene, physical distancing, and not traveling if one has symptoms. Getting the world immunized won’t be quick or easy, but we’re closer with every passing day.