Statement on U.S. donation of 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Honduras
Attributable to Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean
PANAMA CITY, 27 June 2021 - UNICEF welcomes the first United States Government donation of COVID-19 vaccines via COVAX’s dose-sharing mechanism, arriving today in Honduras, and calls for more large scale vaccine donations, in particular to hard-hit Latin America and the Caribbean.
With only less than 62,000 Hondurans reportedly fully vaccinated, these 1.5 million doses of vaccine represent long-awaited relief to Honduras, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Latin America. Moreover, these doses are a glimmer of hope to the region and all countries waiting anxiously for COVAX doses. The United States should be applauded for stepping up to support Honduras, the region, and the world.
After over 18 months of a pandemic that has cost millions of lives, trillions of dollars, and adversely impacted the lives of us all, we can finally begin to turn the corner on this fight, but vaccines remain out of reach for far too many. Over 30 per cent of the world’s COVID-19 deaths are now found in Latin America and the Caribbean where cases are soaring, even among younger age group. Yet, less than 11 per cent of the population of the hard-hit region is fully vaccinated.
Today, over 100 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean are still out of the classroom due to the pandemic, and the most vulnerable are pushed into child labour. We need to use all the tools at hand to accelerate the response to the pandemic and vaccines are a key tool.
Leaving most of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean unvaccinated against COVID-19 is also a growing threat for the rest of the world. The longer it takes to vaccinate this region, the higher the risk of new and potentially deadlier variants to emerge and spread elsewhere.
Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines represents the clearest pathway out of this pandemic for all of us — children included, and these donations are an important step in this direction. In the coming weeks and months, further scaling up COVID-19 donations by well-supplied countries, including through large scale dose-sharing to Latin America and the Caribbean, is vital to help end the acute phase of the pandemic.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/lac/en.