Caribbean Diplomacy and Cuban Know-How, Key to Defeat Covid19

Vaccine deliveries
Vaccine deliveries | Photo: @zeenewsenglish

Many Caribbean island nations have achieved remarkable success with skilful vaccine diplomacy, making up for their small population and little financial strength, argues Bert Hoffmann, Lead Research Fellow at the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg and Honorary Professor at Freie Universität Berlin.

April 3 (teleSUR) Cuba and the tiny republic of Dominica are by far the brightest examples.

“Dominica has the epidemic under control like no one else: so far, there’s not a single death on the island. The number of infected people is 161 – not per week, as on the neighbouring islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique belonging to France, but in total”, says Hoffamnn in an Op-Ed article published by the ips-journal.eu website.

“With its 70,000 inhabitants, the island had already received 70,000 vaccine doses from India at the beginning of February – not just promised or planned, but actually there on the island, ready to be used. In the meantime, China has stepped forward and flown in more vaccine doses”, he says.

“Not all Caribbean island nations have record as spectacular as Dominica. But many are benefiting from the international competition of vaccine diplomacy. Barbados has received 100,000 doses from India as a donation; 40,000 vaccine doses went to Antigua & Barbuda; and additional doses have been sent to other CARICOM states” he adds.
 

According to Hoffmann, playing Taiwan and China against each other has achieved benefits from both, resulting in more Chinese vaccines and cash from Taiwan, which is itself a net vaccines importer.


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Dominica-China Friendship Hospital is equipped with Modern Healthcare Facilities that boost the ambience while providing the best infrastructure for various diagnoses and treatments.

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“For example, the Dominican Republic cut ties with Taiwan three years ago. Accordingly, on 17 March, a Chinese plane landed in Santo Domingo with one million doses on board. The arrival at the airport included photo ops with Chinese flags as the cargo was unloaded, and speeches invoking friendship and solidarity. Or take the case of Guyana. When the country recently allowed Taiwan to open a trade office, Beijing made no secret of its disapproval. So when Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali ‘corrected’ this mistake a few weeks ago, Xi Jingping personally called to assure him of 20,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine”, he says.

In contrast, the EU-US-led multilateral COVAX initiative has managed to deliver just 14,000 vaccines to Jamaica, stresses Hoffmann.
 

The author underlines the example of revolutionary Cuba, as remarkable: “The socialist government has not imported any vaccine – even though it certainly could have obtained one from China or Russia. Instead, Havana is relying entirely on self-sufficiency.” Cuba is currently developing five different vaccines.

“Despite the economic crisis, medicine and biotechnology are still powerful and up-to-date sectors. The government is proud that Cuba is the only country in Latin America to develop its own vaccines. The most advanced (‘Soberana 2’) is currently in Phase 3 testing with 44,000 people in Cuba and another test group in Iran. If these prove successful, the nationwide vaccination campaign could begin in the second quarter.

“Cuba hopes that its vaccine will become a major export and a source of foreign currency. According to the announcement, 100 million doses are supposed to be produced by the end of the year (…) Of course, they also want to help other countries in solidarity with Latin America, Africa and Asia by providing free vaccine deliveries”.

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