Bartlett says more vaccines needed for early COVID recovery

Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, says that if the Caribbean economic recovery from the pandemic is to begin this year, more vaccines need to be made available very soon.

“If employment is to be restored and tourism return, in a significant way, many more vaccines need to be made available, very soon,” Bartlett told a Tourism Linkages Forum in Kingston Jamaica recently.

He said that, as the global economy tries to navigate its second year of disruption, instability and deep economic recession linked to the on-going pandemic, global attention has largely shifted to identifying the conditions necessary for economic recovery, in the safest and shortest time possible.   

He said that the reality is that only 7.3 per cent of the world’s population of over seven billion people have already received at least one dose of a vaccine to date.

“This is in light of the warning from epidemiological experts, that more than 75 per cent of the world’s population will need to be vaccinated to bring the pandemic fully under control,” he noted.

“More significantly 48 per cent, or nearly half of the doses administered so far, have gone to high-income countries or just 16 per cent of the world’s population. While one in four people in high-income countries have now been vaccinated against COVID-19, only one in more than 500 people in poorer countries have received a jab,” he stated.

He said that, based on the current trend of vaccine inequity, it is estimated that the world’s poorest 92 countries will not be able to reach a vaccination rate of 60 per cent of their populations until 2023, or later. 

The issue of vaccine supply is therefore not just for protecting public health, but for longer term economic recovery and stability. If the global distribution of vaccines becomes significantly equitable throughout the rest of the year, there is a strong possibility that the return of tourism to near-normal level by year-end and beyond will be quite possible,” he said.

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