LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN: COVID-19
Despite the growing roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean experienced their worst month of the pandemic in May. COVID-19 deaths reached record highs in May in Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, while Costa Rica saw a record number of hospitalizations and active cases that overran the public health system. South American countries continue to see cases skyrocket, with Argentina seeing about a fifth of its cumulative cases in May alone, Bolivia dealing with a third wave of infections and growing demand for oxygen supplies and Uruguay now having more than 15 times as many cases as their case total at the end of 2020.
The increasing trend in cases and deaths poses a challenge to countries scrambling to scale up vaccine roll-outs even further amid supply shortages. PAHO is calling for the region to seek local vaccine production alternatives to rely less on imports and close gaps in vaccine access. Mexico indicates they will soon begin shipping AstraZeneca doses manufactured in Argentina and bottled in Mexico to Latin American countries under the terms of an agreement for 150 million doses. The region will also receive 6 million doses through the COVAX Facility as part of the United States' global 80 million-dose donation.