Suriname on Friday received 24,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility, a global effort co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The arrival marks a historic step toward ensuring the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, in the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
This delivery is part of the first phase of deliveries for Suriname, and more vaccines are expected to arrive successively during 2021.
According to the first round of COVAX allocations, Suriname is expected to continue receiving doses through May until it reaches 79,200, the amount specified by COVAX.
Subsequent doses are expected to be received during the second half of the year with total doses deployed to cover up to 20 per cent of the population.
PAHO’s Revolving Fund, which is responsible for acquiring and delivering COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the countries of the Americas that are part of the COVAX Facility, shipped 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by SK Bioscience of South Korea. The vaccines arrived Friday at the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, in Paramaribo.
“The delivery of the first tranche of vaccines through the COVAX Facility with the support of PAHO is a proud moment for Suriname in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is very committed to securing vaccines for the people of Suriname to protect the most vulnerable and reduce deaths,” said Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell, PAHO/WHO Representative in Suriname.
“We will continue to work with the country to support vaccination as well as other public health and social measures that are known to help stop the spread of COVID-19, protect health services, and save lives,” she added.
The arrival of these first vaccines will serve to protect priority groups and those most at risk of becoming infected with the virus, such as health workers and older adults.
“With the arrival of these vaccines, Suriname will be able to vaccinate more of the vulnerable people. We are very glad to receive the vaccines and believe that it will help us in our goal to minimize admissions to hospitals and deaths due to COVID-19. The vaccination program of the country is being strengthened and we are thankful that the COVAX Facility and PAHO could secure these vaccine doses for Suriname,” said Dr. Rakesh Sukul, Acting Director of Health, Ministry of Health, Suriname.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Suriname, the country has recorded 9,085 confirmed cases and 177 deaths as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to WHO and https://covid-19.sr/.
“We have all felt the effect of COVID-19 on our lives, but the impact has been especially harsh on the lives of children who have not been able to attend class in person for almost the entire past year; children who were not able to go out and play and socialize, and the overall impact the pandemic has had on children’s mental health…so, when we talk about the COVAX vaccines arriving in Suriname, we need to recognize what this also represents for the children – it is hope! Hope that we can bring this pandemic under control; hope that we can start the work to build a better, safer, and healthier future for everyone and every child,” said Nicolas Pron, Area Representative, UNICEF Guyana and Suriname.