Colombia became the first country in the Americas and only the third in the world to receive coronavirus vaccines as part of the Covax facility supported by the World Health Organization, which is designed to ensure low-income countries and intermediary access to drugs.
A plane carrying 117,000 doses of the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine landed in Bogotá on Monday.
“Colombia, with the support of Covax partners, has worked incredibly hard to be able to receive its first wave of Covax vaccines, and I pay tribute to all who have diligently prepared for this arrival,” said the managing director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The Covax initiative was set up to ensure that poorer countries do not lose to richer nations in the vaccine race. It is supported by the global alliances for vaccines Gavi and Cepi and is designed to cover 20% of the citizens of participating countries by the end of the year.
Ninety-two of the world’s poorest countries are expected to get the vaccines for free thanks to donations from richer countries, while middle-income countries, including Colombia, will have to pay but are expected to be priced lower than they are. only would if they negotiated with the drug companies over theirs.
In the Americas, Peru, El Salvador and Bolivia are also expected to receive vaccines as part of the first wave of Covax.
Colombia, with a population of 50 million, has ordered 20 million doses through Covax and purchased millions more under bilateral agreements with producers.
The country, which has recorded nearly 60,000 deaths from the virus, began its vaccination rollout on February 17 – later than most other major Latin American countries – and has so far vaccinated just 130,000 people .
The government says it plans to vaccinate the entire population by the end of the year.