Browne meets US officials over vaccine donations

Amery Browne -
Amery Browne -

DR AMERY BROWNE, Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, on Friday held talks with US officials about the donation of covid19 vaccines to this country and region promised by US president Joe Biden.

On Thursday, Biden promised six million doses to Latin America and the Caribbean, out of an initial 25 million doses to be given globally.

The discussions on Friday followed recent talks between the Prime Minister and US vice-president Kamala Harris on Thursday.

Browne virtually met Juan Sebastian Gonzalez, special assistant to Biden and senior director for the Western Hemisphere at the White House, plus Dr Maureen Bartee, senior advisor and director for Emerging Biological Threats at the National Security Council.

The talks also followed a meeting on April 19 between Dr Rowley and Dr Elizabeth Cameron, special assistant to Biden and senior director for Global Health Security and Biodefense, National Security Council staff in the White House.

That meeting had been a direct outcome of the issues raised by Rowley with US Congresswoman Maxine Waters on March 25 about access to covid19 vaccines for Caricom countries and other related matters.

Browne opened the meeting with an expression of gratitude on behalf of Rowley to Harris for her recent telephone call to him.

The minister sought details of the US Government's pledge of 80 million covid19 vaccine doses.

Gonzalez said those vaccines would primarily be distributed through the Covax facility and other initiatives, and be sourced from multiple manufacturers.

He said the first allocation of 25 million doses, out of the total 80 million doses, was due to take place before the end of June.

In response to Browne's direct advocacy on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago and Caricom countries now under a significant and troubling surge in covid19 cases, Gonzalez said those concerns would be taken into account. He said the final quantities of vaccines to be allocated to Caricom and the Caribbean will be decided in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha.)

Gonzalez said this allocation by the US Government as it sought to lead the global charge against the covid19 pandemic was "free of cost and obligation."

He assured there would be additional global vaccine roll-outs once surplus doses were obtained.

During the meeting, there was consensus on the important role to be played by Carpha in assisting with an urgent vaccine roll-out in the Caricom region.

The meeting concluded with a commitment of further direct communication from the White House to the ministry in the near future so as to respond to questions raised during the discussion.

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"Browne meets US officials over vaccine donations"

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