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Vaccines Cannot Come Too Soon for Regions Like Latin America, W.H.O. Says

RIO DE JANEIRO — Officials on the World Health Organization on Wednesday repeated their calls for the world’s governments to speed up plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines to hard-hit nations, warning that many nations in Latin America proceed to see rising caseloads.

“Across our region, this year has been worse than last year,” mentioned Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, which is a part of the World Health Organization. “In many places infections are higher now than at any point in this pandemic.”

The feedback got here the identical day that President Biden, shortly earlier than leaving on his first journey overseas as president, was requested if he had a vaccination technique for the world. “I have one, and I’ll be announcing it,” he responded.

Multiple folks acquainted with the plan mentioned that the White House had reached an settlement with Pfizer and BioNTech to offer 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to about 100 nations over the subsequent year. Mr. Biden might announce the association as early as Thursday, these folks mentioned.

It just isn’t but clear which nations the five hundred million vaccine doses can be equipped to, however Latin America is among the many areas the place the necessity is pressing. Eight of the ten nations with the very best rate of Covid deaths per capita rate are in Latin America and the Caribbean, based on the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

And at the same time as hospitals in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and different nations the place the virus continues to unfold aggressively have created overflow amenities, well being care techniques in a number of nations within the area are struggling to manage, Dr. Etienne mentioned through the W.H.O.’s digital news conference on Wednesday morning.

“Despite the doubling or even the tripling of hospital beds throughout the region, I.C.U. beds are full, oxygen is running low and health workers are overwhelmed,” she mentioned.

Most governments in Latin America are struggling to accumulate sufficient doses to shortly inoculate their folks, which can delay their means to totally reopen economies, officers mentioned.

Last week, Mr. Biden mentioned the United States would distribute 25 million doses this month to nations within the Caribbean and Latin America; South and Southeast Asia; Africa; and the Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank. Those doses are the primary of 80 million that Mr. Biden pledged to ship overseas by the top of June.

Dr. Etienne mentioned solely a extra equitable distribution system will put an finish to the pandemic within the foreseeable future.

“Today we’re seeing the emergence of two worlds, one quickly returning to normal and another where recovery remains a distant future,” Dr. Etienne mentioned. “Unfortunately, vaccine supply is concentrated in a few nations while most of the world waits for doses to trickle down.”

She singled out the vaccine scarcity in Central America, house to greater than 44 million folks, the place simply over two million have been inoculated. Fewer than three million folks have been vaccinated in nations within the Caribbean, which has a inhabitants of simply over 34 million.