Paramaribo, Suriname. March 26, 2021 (PAHO/WHO) — Suriname today 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% 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 today 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. 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."
Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell, PAHO/WHO Representative in Suriname
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 Suriname's official COVID-19 dashboard.
“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 Mr. Nicolas Pron, Area Representative, UNICEF Guyana and Suriname.
Jamaica was the first country in the Caribbean to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility on March 15. Suriname is the second one. In total, fifteen Caribbean countries are expected to receive just over 2.1 million doses of COVAX vaccines by May. These include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Six of these countries (Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines) will receive the vaccines free of charge.
COVAX seeks to provide vaccines for at least 20% of the population of each participating country during 2021. In this first round of vaccine allocation, all COVAX participating countries will receive doses to vaccinate an average of 2.2% of their population. The only exceptions are small island developing States, which will receive an allocation of vaccines to cover between 16 and 20% of their population, due to the high logistical cost of delivering small quantities of vaccines.
Until vaccination is widespread among the population, basic public health measures remain the basis of the pandemic response. For public health authorities, this means continuing to conduct screening, contact tracing, isolation, supervised quarantine, and quality care. And for people, it means continuing to practice physical distancing, hand hygiene, the use of masks, adequate ventilation of indoor environments, and avoidance of crowded spaces.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as a key implementing partner, as well as civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. In the Americas, the PAHO Revolving Fund is the recognized procurement agent for the COVAX facility.