Jamaica will likely achieve herd immunity sooner than expected, as the Caribbean country is slated to secure 121,000 doses of COVID vaccines by the second week of April.
Jamaica is receiving 75,000 doses of Astrazeneca vaccine as part of its membership with the African Medical Support Platform. And it has secured a deal with US pharmaceutical firm Moderna for 20,000 doses, according to Howard Mitchell, Chairman of the National Health Fund (NHF).
In addition, “26,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines should arrive in Jamaica in early April,” he added.
Reports say the vaccines it has secured so far are enough to inoculate 1.5 million people. Jamaica is home to just 2.9 million people. To achieve herd immunity, Jamaica needs another 1 million vaccine doses.
The demand for the COVID vaccine is five times larger than the production rate, said Mitchell, adding that wealthier countries had secured most of the early production.
The slower pace of production and the shortage of cargo ships to transport are the two major stumbling blocks hampering the efforts of poorer countries to achieve herd immunity quickly, he added.
Jamaica has reported 38,514 cases of coronavirus with 586 fatalities since the pandemic began. Its fatality rate is smaller compared with other nations in the region. But the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to its economy, with the tourism industry, the country’s major source of revenue, struggling to stay afloat.