On the morning of Thursday, August 12, the United States delivered 128,7000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to The Bahamas, making good on the promises of the Biden-Harris Administration’s global vaccine sharing framework. Prime Minister the Most Honourable Dr. Hubert Minnis and U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Usha E. Pitts were on the tarmac at Jet Aviation, ready to receive the delivery of this first tranche of a total of 379,000 total vaccines that the United States has pledged to The Bahamas.
In addition to the vaccines themselves, the United States has contributed over $1.5 million dollars to the fight against COVID-19 in The Bahamas. As recently as July, U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) secured four ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers required to store and distribute the Pfizer vaccine. Valued at a total of over $100,000, the freezers can cool doses at up to -122 degrees Fahrenheit and store over 168,000 vaccine doses each. In addition to the ULT medical freezers, USNORTHCOM also provided the additional medical supplies needed to administer and handle Pfizer vaccine doses, including syringes, phlebotomy equipment, and specialized tools and personal protective equipment for manipulating materials at sub-zero temperatures.
“This represents a way for us to really break the back of this pandemic,” said Chargé d’Affaires Usha E. Pitts after delivering the donation, calling this “a wonderful day.” She added that she was “very proud to be the representative of the United States here today. This gift from the American people to The Bahamas is of course an enduring representation and symbol of our friendship.” Speaking to journalists after her formal remarks, Chargé Pitts also highlighted the U.S. government’s grant of $750,000 to The Bahamas through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in late 2020, which providing critical supplies and support to the country’s healthcare workforce, and an $85,000 state-of-the-art BioFire respiratory disease diagnostic machine to Princess Margaret Hospital. In June, USNORTHCOM contributed an additional $535,000 in respirators, medical equipment, and Personal Protective Equipment to The Bahamas, adding to nearly $10 million they contributed to disaster preparedness and resilience over the past year.
Teamwork between the United States and The Bahamas was also on full display when several U.S. government entities worked with the Bahamas Ministry of Health and the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee to distribute vaccines to eight Family Islands. First in April, and again in June of 2021, the Rhode Island National Guard provided a C-12 plane and crew, while U.S. NORTHCOM donated specialized coolers to keep the thousands of vaccine doses viable as they were delivered to Mayaguana, Acklins Island, Crooked Island, Cat Island, Long Island, Inagua, Bimini, and Eleuthera. The two missions also transported Bahamian healthcare workers and volunteers to these remote locations, and another mission is being planned now that more vaccines have arrived in-country.
The arrival of this tranche of 128,700 Pfizer vaccine doses to The Bahamas is just one part of the United States’ commitment to fighting COVID-19 across the globe, and to laying the groundwork for increased vaccine supply and access around the world. “Pfizer-BioNTech’s focus is on helping to end the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone, everywhere, and that requires the hard work and collaboration of many” said Pfizer’s Latin America President Carlos Murillo. “Due to the generous support of the U.S. Government and the commitment of CARICOM and the CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) to ensure that their citizens are protected, we will be able to accelerate access to our COVID-19 vaccine for the people of the Caribbean at no cost, expanding our global fight against this deadly disease.”
As both the United States and The Bahamas celebrated their independence in July, we were reminded of our shared democratic values, long history of partnership, and enduring social and cultural ties. Together, we will defeat COVID-19 and continue to build a world that is safer and more secure from infectious disease and other shared threats.
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