Spain pledges 7.5 million vaccines to Latin America after vaccinating 50% of its population

Ibero-American Summit makes clear widening gap in the region

AFP/LIONEL BONAVENTURE - A general view shows the plenary meeting of the heads of state during the 27th Ibero-American Summit in Soldeu in Andorra on 21 April 2021

The second day of the Ibero-American Summit was marked by a strong stance on the distribution of vaccines by Latin American leaders. The vaccination situation in the region has been described as a "disaster", with complaints about the Covax distribution system which, according to the presidents present, has benefited the few and affected the many. The minimal capacity for understanding among the region's heads of state has not allowed them to reach an equitable distribution mechanism, as in the past through the Pan American Health Organisation. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that he would donate 7.5 million doses, which would be distributed to countries in the region. The organisers of the Summit had a problem regarding who they would invite as a representative of Venezuela, when it became known that the invited delegation would be the Chavista regime controversy broke out among the participants, since most of the delegations recognise Juan Guaidó as the president in charge of Venezuela, such annoyance was noticed on the second day of the conference.

Pedro Sánchez has also referred to the possibility of opening the debate on eliminating the vaccination patents of different pharmaceutical companies, in order to avoid monopolies. The vaccines promised for Latin America come between 5-10% from the common procurement organised by the European Commission. Distribution will begin when Spain reaches 50% of the vaccinated population, estimated to be in July. The distribution scheme will be through Covax, with the support of the Pan American Health Organisation. "As a sign of Spain's commitment and solidarity with the Ibero-American community, I can inform you that Prime Minister Sánchez will announce that Spain will make vaccines available to Latin America as soon as possible to deal with this health emergency," said the Minister of Economy, María Jesus María Montero.

Atalayar_Cumbre Iberoamericana

UN Secretary-General António Guterres participated in the summit via video call, saying that the Covax mechanism should be used by countries to curb "dangerous vaccine nationalism", which he said has allowed rich countries to cover their entire population when the poorest have not been able to start. Guterres focused his participation on the economic recovery that countries must implement in the post-COVID-19 era and how states must remain committed to meeting the indicators of the 2030 agenda. 

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The Bolivian President, Luis Arce, participated in the Summit and referred to the poor distribution of vaccines and how there are countries that have made speculations about production, "rich countries have bought more than half of the vaccines in the world when they represent 16% of the world's population. More than 100 countries have not started vaccinating. Medical science should be at the service of the human being, access to vaccines should be a human right". The Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera, has referred to the scientists and their success in achieving a vaccine, but criticised the political institutions. "This crisis has shown a remarkable success of the scientific world and a remarkable failure of the political world," Piñera said. Colombian President Iván Duque referred to the importance of the region's collective collaboration: "No one is safe until we are all safe. The privilege of a few puts the whole of humanity at risk. The virus mutates and its mutations can become challenging to the development of vaccines," said Colombia's Iván Duque.

Atalayar_Nicolás Maduro

The Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, was once again the protagonist of the controversy at the summit, since after having confirmed his participation in the Summit, he did not appear, after several leaders of the region had rejected his presence at the forum, the Venezuelan regime placed Delcy Rodríguez to replace Maduro at the forum. This is the second time that Maduro has left the Ibero-American forum without attending, as in 2016 he cancelled his participation in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, at the last minute. 

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.