The World Health Organisation (WHO) is “not entirely” comfortable with the rollout of the Covax facility vaccine which began yesterday.
The WHO hosted a Question and Answer segment with the High Commissioner of the United Nations Refugee Agency Filippo Grandi, Teresa Zakaria and Mike Ryan the executive director of Emergencies Programme at the WHO.
Ryan said that when countries put forward their rollout plans for the Covax vaccines, they were mandated do include refugees.
“While everything is frustrated, today is a great day, the Covax facility is delivering its first vaccines today,” Ryan said.
“Even though its slower than everyone wants, we have collectively developed many new vaccines in less than a year, we have tested those vaccines for safety and efficacy, we are rolling those vaccines out and while that distribution is not something we are entirely comfortable with, at least the issue of equity was on the table and we are driving that equity,” Ryan said.
The group said that closed borders and the limitations on physical movement because of the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the suffering of the refugee population.
The WHO says that registering refugees will help with COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The key word is inclusion. States that have vaccination campaigns, refugees are included,” Grandi said.
“We have kept some statistics and already we know that 106 countries have stated publicly that they will include displaced people on their territories in their vaccination campaigns,” he said.
“That is not too bad, there are 200 states in the world not all of them host refugees so we are doing well,” he said.
Grandi said he is in discussions with each of the countries.
“The challenge is what to do because most of these countries do not have many means,” he said.
Grandi said that “other arrangements” are being measured to support those countries.
“Like Covax for example. What we have done is to ensure that Covax bears in mind that this approach that some countries have, in addition to its population, host refugee populations. This becomes a factor in calculating the help that international communities will give to those countries,” Grandi said.
Grandi said that Colombia is currently hosting some 1.7 million Venezuelan refugees within its borders but data was missing because of a lack of registration.
That data, Grandi said, helps the WHO.
T&T has some 16,000 Venezuelan migrants registered in the country.
Last week, when discussing the rollout of the vaccine, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that registered Venezuelan migrants would receive the vaccines.