Senior officials warn that Latin America urgently needs Western vaccines
A senior official said that wealthy countries have three times as much coronavirus vaccine stocks as their own population needs, and that the remaining part should now be donated to Latin America, which has been the most affected by the pandemic, and the death toll is “catastrophic.” “.
In an interview with the “Financial Times”, Rebeca Grynspan of the Ibero-American General Secretariat, which is responsible for grouping Spain, Portugal and Latin America, said that other countries should follow Spain. The country’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has promised that once half of the Spanish population is vaccinated, they will donate excess vaccines to Latin America through the WHO-led Covax facility. According to Madrid, as of July 8, about 57.5% of people received the first dose of the vaccine.
“It is very important to follow Spain’s example because it will provide us with vaccines from the second half of this year,” Greenspan said. If you don’t follow Spain’s example, “the suffering will continue, and it will continue to take the lives of many people”.
She warned that the existing G7 vaccine donation pledge was too late.
Latin America accounts for 8% of the world’s population and has suffered nearly one-third of global deaths during this pandemic and its worst recession in 120 years.
The vaccination rate is very low due to the difficulty in obtaining supplies-in some countries, the population vaccination rate is less than 10%. Officials complain that the US and European governments have monopolized stocks. The region’s weak health system, high poverty rate and large urban population have been blamed on the high incidence of Covid-19.
The United States has announced plans to donate 80 million doses of surplus vaccines worldwide, and has pledged to provide 500 million doses of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to 92 low-income countries by mid-2022. But this definition only includes a few countries in Latin America, and the distribution will be determined by Washington. Grynspan said that Covax should distribute all donated vaccines.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, limited borrowing channels and unstable public finances limit the funds that Latin American countries can spend to alleviate increasing poverty and unemployment.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America stated earlier this year that the region’s government debt will rise from 68.9% of GDP to 79.3% between 2019 and 2020, making Latin America and the Caribbean the most indebted region among developing countries.
The International Monetary Fund is Close to agreeing to issue new special drawing rights of US$650 billion, This is the largest such allocation in its history in response to a pandemic. But under current rules, it will be distributed in proportion to the existing quota, which means that most of the funds will go to rich countries.
There have been discussions about redirecting funds to the poorest countries under existing mechanisms, but this will exclude middle-income countries, which covers most of Latin America.
Grynspan stated that Latin America will receive only US$68 billion in newly issued bonds: “It is not enough to get rid of the problems we are facing. [with Covid-19] If the problem persists, even less. “
Grynspan, an economist who served as the vice president of Costa Rica, said that the Ibero-American countries would like to see a new IMF facility to transfer surplus resources from rich countries to middle-income countries.
“If the economic crisis [in Latin America] Getting deeper and deeper. .. We will see more protests. .. On the street,” she added. “Latin America needs to get rid of this crisis through a new social contract. Funding for basic public services and social protection should be universal. “
Grynspan will become the first female secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, seven years after resigning from the Secretariat next month. The Secretariat has not yet appointed a successor.