Wednesday, Apr 21, 2021

Panama expects 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in Q1 of 2021

Panama expects 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in Q1 of 2021

The health authorities expect that around 750,000 doses of the vaccine against the Covid-19 disease will have arrived in Panama by the end of March. There have been more than 320,000 infections and 5,000 deaths reported in the country over 10 months.

The doses, expected to arrive on February 15, are from the pharmaceutical duo Pfizer / BioNTech and the AstraZeneca / Oxford University alliance.

Pfizer / BioNTech must complete the shipment of 437,160 vaccines, since in the first batch only 12,840 arrived, and the agreed total is 450,000 doses for 225,000 people.

Other doses - between 216,000 and 364,800, which must arrive through the Covax mechanism of the World Health Organization (WHO), come from the AstraZeneca / University of Oxford alliance.

This was confirmed by the Deputy Minister of Health, Ivette Berrío, who indicated that they received the letter about this dose assignment on January 30.

She added that the shipment is subject to confirmation, but is expected to be delivered by the end of February.

Panama formalized in July 2020 its interest to adhere to the global Covax mechanism and thus access vaccines against Covid-19. The Covax portfolio includes more than nine vaccines, including Astra Zeneca / University of Oxford and Pfizer / BioNTech.

This is a joint fund that represents the interests of the Member States of the WHO, in order to negotiate the best prices with the producers of the vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, and to have access to a sufficient quantity of doses.

In fact, the first week of October the Government had to pay 1.9 million dollars for the acquisition of the doses of the vaccines that are part of the Covax portfolio.

Until the end of March we could be counting on up to around 750 thousand doses against Covid-19, Berrío said.

The Ministry of Health (Minsa) reported that they will receive vaccines directly from the contracted pharmaceutical companies, and through the Covax mechanism.

Broad portfolio

Gerardo Alfaro, representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), indicated that Covax has managed to secure significant doses of vaccines from various manufacturers, including those already authorized or very close to being authorized by the WHO emergency use list.

He stressed that Panama has been taking steps to be part of the first countries to receive vaccines in the first round of Covax deliveries, and that is why the country is on the distribution list of the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The PAHO representative in Panama clarified that WHO has not yet authorized the emergency use of this vaccine, therefore they can only provide the indicative number of doses that covers the next two quarters.

In addition, Alfaro said that given the global supply limitations that manufacturers are currently experiencing, there could be reductions in the contracted quantities.

In a first stage, the Covax mechanism expects to deliver 35.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to 36 states in Latin America and the Caribbean between mid-February and the end of June, reported the Pan American Health Organization.

PAHO said the Americas region needs to vaccinate
about 500 million people to control the pandemic, adding that WHO would complete its review of AstraZeneca's vaccine for the emergency use list in a few days.

The countries of the region that participate in the Covax mechanism and received letters are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Meanwhile, some 40 million doses of the vaccine created by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer / BioNTech will soon be delivered to Covax to distribute vaccinations fairly in the first quarter of this year.

Reserve dose

Of the batch with 12,840 doses of the vaccine sent on January 20 by Pfizer / BioNTech, more than 10,000 people have been vaccinated, the majority in the age range of 19 to 59 years, at the same time that the Expanded Program Immunization Department continues the distribution of vaccines that were part of the reserve for the second dose of health personnel already vaccinated.

The Metropolitan Health Region yesterday received the first 816 doses of the vaccine in 116 vials, which will be applied to the front-line personnel of the 19 health centers and 5 polyclinics of the Social Security Fund (CSS).

They will apply to the Rapid Response Teams (ERR), the swab teams in each of the 19 health centers, the regional team and also [the international health team at the Tocumen International Airport (AIT), in addition to they include the five polyclinics of the CSS, specified Israel Cedeño, regional director.

He added that during this first phase the vaccine will be applied to health officials who, due to their performance of duties, have to attend to suspected Covid-19 patients or confirmed patients, doctors, ERR nurses, doctors every day that they swab in health centers, those that help and support traceability.

Cedeño explained that with the delivery of the following batches it is contemplated to vaccinate the rest of the administrative staff, everyone who needs the vaccine based on their age, the vulnerable population and the elderly.


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