The U.S. administration is working on shipping COVID-19 vaccines to Haiti as the situation becomes worse despite the concern that the nation’s weak health system, including the infrastructure, may not be able to handle a huge shipment. A member of the White House said the Biden administration is in an “active” dialogue with the government of the Caribbean country on the complexities of shipping a large number of coronavirus vaccine doses. The conversation also includes Haiti’s storage capacity and the logistics of delivering the vaccines safely. The White House official added that there is urgency in getting the vaccines shipped in the shortest time possible.
After recording few coronavirus cases and deaths in the previous year and complicating the medical fraternity, Haiti is currently reporting an increase in the number of infections. The COVID-19 fatalities have increased, and new cases are overcrowding the hospitals. The nation’s oxygen supply has also become limited. United States’ antiviral treatments stay unreachable, and every week, at least one hospital reports that it is full and cannot admit any more COVID-19 patients.
In the meantime, the capacity for the virus testing remains low, and Haiti remains the only country where the government has not yet given a single shot of coronavirus vaccine in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Pan American Health Organization said delivery of 132,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the U.N. was expected to arrive but has been delayed.
“As an important part of our dedication to supply a minimum of eighty million safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the U.S. administration is actively conversing with officials of the government of Haiti to ensure that they deliver the vaccines within the shortest time possible,” the White House official said. “So far, there are finalized plans, but we hope to give out more news on our dedication to assisting Haiti in the immediate future.”
However, individuals with U. S. visas are traveling to New York and Miami to get the vaccine. But many Haitians are left with no choice but to wait in fears of a pandemic that the majority did not believe existed. Haitians are also becoming impatient as they claim that the U.S. and the CONVAX are moving slowly. Some healthcare officials are reaching out to hospitals and elected executives in the U.S. requesting access to their extra vaccines. Specifically, they ask for access to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses that are about to expire in different states.
Dr. Yves Renaud, one of the demonstrators at a recent rally who is hoping that the U.S. will give out some of its extra Pfizer and Moderna to Haiti, said they don’t want the Caribbean country to be the last nation to receive assistance. However, the doctor and other distinguished individuals are finding shipping of the U. S.-bought vaccines to Haiti impossible.
The U.S. administration has bought all coronavirus vaccines in the United States. All providers should register with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and follow the provider requirements. The requirement states that they either have to get rid of the unused vaccine if it has been used for so long or take it back. A U. S. State Department official said that sharing vaccines with other countries must be done through the federal government. “The vaccines are not helping anyone right now, and many people in other parts of the world are so desperate and eagerly waiting for the vaccines. Letting them languish in the stores is just not fair when people are dying in other countries,” Michael Kahane, southern region bureau chief for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which cares for people living with HIV, said.
Kahane and other demonstrators assembled outside the federal building in Fort Lauderdale, asking the United States administration to give its coronavirus vaccine to other countries. Similar demonstrations were happening elsewhere around the U. S. “The bureaucracy of the U. S. is acting slowly,” he said. “Haiti is near our shores, and everyone knows that people fly back and forth to Haiti day in, day out. Lack of vaccines in Haiti is not only a huge inequity to Haitians but also a huge block to getting this deadly virus behind us,” he added.
As of June 10, Haiti has recorded 16,662 infections and 358 deaths caused by COVID-19. With fewer beds to treat COVID patients, this global pandemic weakens its already fragile health system. A catholic priest who is a doctor from metropolitan Port-au-Prince said it is illogical how Biden wants to help the world with vaccines, and they have many doses expiring. He said that his hospital is struggling under the pressure of COVID. The hospital has limited oxygen tanks, and they cannot admit more patients. Gang violence is also affecting oxygen deliveries. Businesses are being attacked in the capital, causing traffic along the main road heading to the airport.
Haitian medical practitioners say that while they are thankful to the U.S. for its help, the savagery of the virus infections needs more oxygen tanks in the hospitals. They also need access to Remdesivir, a drug that helps to minimize the number of days a patient stays in hospital, although it is costly.
Despite the Haitian government vaccine distrust and hesitancy, the possibility of receiving unused vaccines is not yet lost on those determined to help. Several partners in Haiti have been negotiating with the Biden administration and Pan American Health Organization on the vaccine rollout plan and ensuring that people get vaccinated once they land. All vaccination will be conducted by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population. PAHO is currently helping the government in organizing the logistics of the rollout.