After The Bahamas’ third tranche of AstraZeneca doses from the COVAX Facility was delayed, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa said COVAX is still faced by some supply challenges.
The shipment of 32,500 doses from COVAX, a global initiative that seeks to ensure equitable access to vaccines, was initially scheduled to arrive in June but was pushed back, with officials saying the doses could be expected by the end of this month.
However, when asked yesterday if countries that had shipments put off should expect further delays, Barbosa said PAHO is still speaking with producers of the vaccine to determine when more doses will be available.
“COVAX was facing many serious limitations during most of June, due to different problems,” he said during a weekly PAHO press briefing.
“We still have the government of India that is not allowing the Serum Institute of India to export the AstraZeneca vaccines that Serum Institute is producing.
“We also had a problem with a new site that produces AstraZeneca.
“It applied to receive EUL, the authorization for the emergency use listing from WHO. It was delayed more than the producer expected. So, in June, we had very, very [significant] problems on the supply side.
“Now, these countries, the Revolving Fund of PAHO is in negotiation with the producers to have the information about when the vaccines will be available to be deployed in July.
“We expect that…next week, we will receive this information and we will share with the countries.”
The delay comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the country are again on the rise.
The Bahamas has so far managed to secure orders of 120,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, enough to fully vaccinate 60,000 people.
Twenty thousand of the doses – the first to arrive in The Bahamas – came by way of a donation from the government of India.
The remaining doses were secured through COVAX.
Due to the delay of the latest shipment, the Bahamian government has borrowed 5,000 additional doses from Antigua and Barbuda.
Minister of Health Renward Wells said the government is also in talks with other countries and territories in the region in an effort to secure more doses from them.
As of Friday, some 95,992 doses of the vaccine had been administered in The Bahamas, according to the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee.