Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has written to US President Joe Biden requesting that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries be given some of the AstraZeneca vaccines his government is providing Canada and Mexico.
The White House announced Thursday that four million doses of the vaccine would be released to the US' two neighbours, marking the first time it has directly supplied vaccines abroad.
In a letter to President Biden, Browne pointed out that the Caribbean is the third border of the US, and the same way in which that country's safety would be imperilled if the population of Canada and Mexico were not inoculated to achieve herd immunity, the US would remain at risk if CARICOM countries were neglected. The fact that many Americans will want to vacation in the Caribbean also strengthens his appeal.
He pointed out that the Caribbean region is among the worst affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic through unemployment, poverty and increased debt. He said: “The vulnerability of states must become an important criterion in the provision of vaccines, and the Caribbean region is among the most vulnerable in the world.”
Alarmingly, Browne added that “if these conditions are not addressed soon, we face a crumbling of our security systems from which drug traffickers, money launderers, people traffickers, and organised crime will take advantage to the detriment of our countries and of the US. Inevitably, there will also be a surge of refugees”.
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