Americas COVID instances are down, vaccine inequity nonetheless an issue

New coronavirus instances and deaths within the Americas have reached the bottom ranges in additional than a yr, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) mentioned, however entry to COVID-19 vaccines, stays a problem.

PAHO Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa on Wednesday mentioned the Americas reported greater than 800,000 new infections and 18,000 deaths through the previous seven days – a drastic lower from earlier weeks.

“We have reason to be optimistic, but we must remain vigilant,” Barbosa mentioned throughout a daily digital information briefing.

Many of the Caribbean islands are seeing decreases in new infections, Barbosa mentioned, together with Cuba, a nation that had for months been battling an intense outbreak of the illness.

The downward pattern in COVID-19 infections comes amid advances in vaccination campaigns throughout the area. But, PAHO officers mentioned, gaps stay and plenty of international locations particularly, these with low vaccination charges, stay susceptible to extra outbreaks.

Smaller islands, resembling Saint Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Anguilla and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are reaching their first pandemic peaks and are reporting their highest numbers of latest infections and deaths.

Vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccine actions, fueled by misinformation, are additionally a persistent problem within the area. This banner in a protest in Bogota, Colombia, reads, ‘No vaccine’ [Nathalia Angarita/Reuters]

That is why, Barbosa warned, it stays essential that international locations proceed to implement public well being measures, resembling mask-wearing, social distancing, and limiting giant gatherings.

On Wednesday, the White House mentioned 15 million Americans have to date acquired booster pictures, because the nation continues to unroll a programme to boost safety towards the virus nationwide.

Nationally, 69 % of American adults are totally vaccinated, in accordance with the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vaccination for youngsters aged 5-11 can also be imminent, pending authorisation by the nation’s Food and Drug Administration. A CDC advisory panel is anticipated to satisfy on Tuesday to debate the matter. Some states, Jeff Zeints, the White House’s Coronavirus Coordinator mentioned, have already positioned preliminary orders for doses.

During the common COVID briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky mentioned new instances, hospitalisations and deaths have all been down since early September. Still, on common, 1,160 persons are dying from the illness daily.

“We are now heading in the right direction,” Walensky mentioned through the briefing, “but with cases still high we must remain vigilant, heading into the colder, drier winter months.”

Meanwhile, nearly 44 % of individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean are totally vaccinated, PAHO mentioned.

But with greater than half of the area nonetheless unprotected, vaccine inequity stays one of many largest challenges, Barbosa mentioned.

Chile, Uruguay and Canada have made main headway of their vaccination campaigns, and have totally protected three-quarters of their inhabitants towards the illness. Meanwhile, Guatemala, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Haiti have inoculated lower than 20 % of their populations, he mentioned.

Barbosa mentioned a couple of million doses are anticipated to arrive within the area this week as a part of the COVAX vaccine sharing programme, with extra vaccine deliveries anticipated to arrive by means of the tip of the yr.

But many extra doses are urgently wanted to guard extra folks within the area from the illness.

Barbosa appealed to leaders of the G20 who’re assembly in Rome for a summit through the weekend, urging them for added vaccine donations. He added that no nation is actually secure from additional unfold of the virus, whereas others are nonetheless unprotected.

He additionally mentioned public well being is taking centre stage on the COP26, this yr’s United Nations Climate Change Conference summit. The convention is scheduled to start on Sunday in Scotland’s capital, Glasgow.

Barbosa mentioned local weather and public well being are interlinked. And greater than 12 million folks die each from ailments related to environmental danger components, he mentioned.

“Ahead of the Summit, PAHO has launched an Agenda for the Americas on Health, Environment, and Climate Change that offers countries a plan of action to reduce the burden of environmental risks on the health of our region,” Barbosa mentioned.