Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 02, 2020 (SKNIS): The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis will be able to access vaccines through the COVAX Facility, says Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, during the Prime Minister’s monthly press conference on December 01, 2020.

Dr. Laws stated that the COVAX Facility is a global initiative. It is led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

She noted that the facility is a global risk-sharing mechanism that was established to facilitate the pool procurement and equitable distribution of successful COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

“It aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of these vaccines and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world including the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis,” she said.

On October 09, 2020, the Federation completed its down payment to the COVAX Facility, said Dr. Laws. She added that there are about 10 vaccine candidates in the final stages of development. There are three frontrunners including one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca.

Dr. Laws said that Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted their documents to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and they are hoping to achieve Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by mid to end of December this year or by January 2021.

She said that it is thought that the vaccines will become available to the United States of America and Europe by January 2021.

Dr. Laws noted that in a recent COSOD meeting it was stated by a representative of the WHO that vaccines can be available to the Caribbean Member States by as early as March 2021.

“He went on to share that it is projected that three percent of the global need of vaccines will be available by the end of June 2021 and 20 percent of the global need will be available by the end of 2021,” she said.

“So it goes without saying that the vaccines will not be available to everyone,” she added. “So the COVAX Facility, all the participating countries are aware that we are supposed to focus on ascertaining vaccines for at least 20 percent of our population.”

The Chief Medical Officer said that the Federation will have to prioritize in the initial phases in terms of who receives the vaccine.

“I think by way of extension it would be the frontline health workers and those that are at higher risk of contracting the virus and those that are at higher risk of developing the severe form of COVID-19,” she said.

Dr. Laws said that there will be a public education campaign to inform the public about the facts of the vaccine.

“The skeptics will be provided all the information there is regarding the vaccine and hopefully everybody would realize that it’s the way to go in terms of ending the pandemic,” said the Chief Medical Officer. “The availability of the vaccine is really the road to recovery from this pandemic.”