What You Should Know
- 500 million: President Biden announced that the United States will purchase and globally donate Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines working through COVAX. 200 million of the doses will be delivered by the end of the year with vaccines beginning to ship in August. The specific geographic allocation has yet to be announced.
- VP Harris: In her first international trip, US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico as part of her focus on tackling the root causes of migration. She spoke with each Head of State in advance of her visit, and specifically discussed allocation of US-supplied COVID-19 vaccines with President Giammattei.
- Vaccine diplomacy: Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Dr. Carissa Etienne welcomed the Biden administration’s announcement of its COVID-19 vaccine dose-sharing plan through COVAX and encouraged other countries with surplus vaccines to follow suit. Dr. Etienne noted that vaccines were the most urgent need for Latin America and the Caribbean.
By the numbers
- Vaccinations per capita (vaccines administered per 100 people): Chile (104) #7 worldwide, Uruguay (89) #15 worldwide, Dominican Republic (53) #43 worldwide, Barbados (50) #45 worldwide, Costa Rica (38) #55 worldwide, Guyana (36) #57 worldwide, Brazil (35) #59 worldwide, El Salvador (33) #62 worldwide, Argentina (33) #63 worldwide, Mexico (27) #67 worldwide, Panama (27) #68 worldwide, Source: nytimes.com
Health + Innovation
- Vaccine tourism: Thousands of Latin American citizens continue to travel to the United States for their COVID-19 vaccine shots; in Peru alone, at least 70,000 citizens have traveled abroad to get vaccinated.
- Haiti: PAHO Director Dr. Etienne called for an intensified health response in Haiti to reverse escalating COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks.
- Hurricane season: Dr. Etienne also urged countries to prepare for the dual threat of COVID-19 and the 2021 hurricane season, which began June 1 and is forecast to have a 60 percent likelihood of above-normal activity.
- Mortality: For Peru and Ecuador, mortality since January 2020 has been 123 percent (Peru) and 67 percent (Ecuador) above normal. In the US and France, death rates have climbed to 18 and 10 percent above normal, respectively.
- US-Mexico border: In an effort to fully reopen border crossings, Mexico will use one million Johnson and Johnson vaccines to inoculate people along the US-Mexico border.
- Brazil: Health regulator Anvisa approved imports of Russia’s Sputnik V and India’s Covaxin vaccines.
- Uruguay: The government released data that shows the Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines to be 90 percent effective among its population.
- Argentina: On June 8, Argentine customs officers conducted a seven-hour strike to press for priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, affecting exports of all ports in Argentina.
Economies in Focus
- According to Brazilian government statistics agency IBGE, retail sales grew at a seasonally adjusted 1.8 percent rate in April from March, the fastest rate in over two decades.
- Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to buy a $500 million stake in Brazil’s digital bank operator Nu Pagamentos SA, the largest fintech in Latin America. The deal comes amid fast expansion of digital banking in Brazil, which received an extra boost as e-commerce expanded during the pandemic.
- Although shipments remain well below pre-pandemic levels, Mexican mango exports grew by 30.3 percent in volume and 57.8 percent in value from January to April 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.
- The World Bank projected Latin America’s economy to grow by 5.2 percent in 2021—above the 3.2 percent forecast in January—assuming moderate progress in vaccine rollouts, the relaxation of mobility restriction measures, and an increase in commodity prices.
- ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena proposed reconsidering the criteria to measure and classify development, and suspending the ‘graduations’ of middle-income countries during the pandemic. Bárcena emphasized that LAC is mostly made up of middle-income countries that, in the context of financing for development, have been left out of access to concessional funds, especially Caribbean island states, and Central American economies.
- According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the transition to a net-zero emissions economy would result in about 22.5 million jobs generated in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Social Transformations: School is Back in Session
- Students in Mexico, Ecuador, and Uruguay began a gradual return to in-person classes–on a voluntary basis–after over a year of virtual education due to COVID-19.
- The Ecuadoran Ministry of Education reported that, in the context of the pandemic, over 90,000 students stopped attending classes, especially in rural areas, where internet access is less than 30 percent.
- According to the World Bank, school closures and the resulting disruptions to attendance and learning are projected to amount to losses valued at $10 trillion in terms of affected children’s future earnings.