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Montevideo, September 30th 2023 - 07:01 UTC



Paraguay wants its money back from the COVAX mechanism

Monday, September 11th 2023 - 10:27 UTC
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COVAX was “a total failure,” Barán said COVAX was “a total failure,” Barán said

Paraguay's Health Minister María Teresa Barán criticized the World Health Organization's (WHO) COVAX mechanism for distributing vaccines against Covid-19 worldwide and refused to accept the next batch from the global agency.

“It is unacceptable, the amount of vaccines we have to accept is totally untimely. To receive these vaccines would mean an even greater expense for Paraguay, so we reject with all our strength not to receive these vaccines to Paraguay,” said Barán, who also rated the international response in this regard as “a total failure.”

Barán also insisted that when Paraguay most needed the vaccines, there was no response from the WHO. Together with Attorney General Marco Aurelio González, she explained that her country was willing to negotiate with the COVAX mechanism, provided the allocation of vaccines worldwide was fair and equitable.

After Paraguay already announced it would seek a Mercosur arbitration on Argentina collecting tolls along the Paraná River Waterway, González also hinted a similar path might be followed in case a satisfactory solution is not reached. “This does not imply that we will not exhaust the amicable route. We only consider that COVAX cannot impose unfair situations on Paraguay that are evidently abusive,” he said.

González explained Paraguay paid nearly US$ 6 million for some 3 million doses of vaccine of which only one million was delivered. “The mechanism did not send the three million doses that it now intends to send, but, then, as Paraguay was only deducted the cost of one million doses, it has a balance of approximately five million dollars in its favor within the COVAX mechanism account,” González also pointed out.

The COVAX mechanism has proposed that Paraguay either pays an exit fee or receives the rest of the requested vaccines.

Asunción had already said in December 2022 through its previous administration ending Aug. 15 that the South American country would insist on terminating the contract with COVAX and request a refund of US$ 5,670,990.

Tags: COVAX.

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