In light of the global scarcity and the volatility of supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the National Health Fund (NHF) wishes to inform the public, of Jamaica’s prospects of obtaining vaccines for the population.
Chairman of the NHF, Mr. Howard Mitchell is advising that approximately 75,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID -19 vaccine from the African Medical Support Platform (AMSP) are expected in the island in the next five days. Following which 20,000 doses of Moderna from commercial sources are expected to arrive two to three weeks later, along with another 26,000 doses of AstraZeneca thereafter.
Mr Mitchell said, “These shipments totaling 121,000 doses of COVID 19 vaccines, should ensure NHF’s ability to distribute vaccines through April into May 2021, until the supply chain for COVID-19 vaccine stabilizes.” These supplies are a part of vaccines which have been negotiated by the Government of Jamaica in 2020, under the two international vaccine purchasing agreements from:
- COVAX -under the aegis of the World Health Organization (WHO)
- The African Medical Support Platform (AMSP) – established by the African Union member states under the Chairmanship of Mr. Strive Masiyiwa.
Under these agreements Jamaica has been allocated sufficient vaccines to inoculate one and a half million residents. In order to achieve herd immunity, the island still needs to secure a further one million doses of double dose vaccines or five hundred thousand single dose vaccines.
Among the challenges faced in securing COVID -19 vaccines for the country are issues surrounding production, as the manufacturers face difficulties in raw material supplies and transportation logistics. Global cargo space shortages also make it difficult to predict delivery times and serve to delay the movement of cargo across different jurisdictions. Further, the global demand for COVID-19 vaccines is currently as much as five times the rate of production and the larger, wealthier countries have secured most of the early production.
Mr. Mitchell noted that, “Notwithstanding these and other difficulties, Jamaica, through the concerted efforts of the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs And Foreign Trade, the Ministry Of Health And Wellness, the NHF, and with the goodwill and support of our African colleagues and the WHO, is managing to obtain further vaccine supplies from several sources to allow us to continue the roll out of our inoculation plan. Also to develop the technology and logistical processes necessary to achieve a safe and efficient island-wide COVID -19 vaccination programme.”
The NHF estimates that the difficult market conditions will begin to ameliorate within the next two months. In the intervening period the NHF team and the other Ministries and Agencies involved in securing COVID-19 vaccines will continue our strenuous efforts to maintain a steady supply of the vaccines for our residents and to achieve greater predictability of transportation and delivery.
The NHF Chairman commits, “to keeping the public informed on a regular basis of both our progress and of any setbacks to that progress and we ask for your support and understanding in these difficult times.”