SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Direct Relief is helping provide COVID-19 vaccine doses to Mexico and South American countries.
The organization worked with the U.S. government to help facilitate the delivery of 1.35 million J&J COVID-19 vaccine doses to Mexico. They were also able to help Mexico deliver 400,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine to Belize, Bolivia and Paraguay.
They delivered the doses on Saturday and Tuesday.
1.35 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Toluca International Airport near Mexico City on Tuesday.
According to Associated Press, Mexican officials have said the shots would be used along Mexico’s border with the U.S. as part of an effort to fully reopen border crossings that are currently restricted to essential travel.
Direct Relief is a registered charity in both the U.S. and Mexico.
They were able to arrange and conduct cross-border donations of temperature sensitive medication, such as the COVID-19 vaccines, safely with their customs clearance expertise, along with their network of logistics and public health partnerships.
With the vaccines given to Mexico, they were able to fly 100,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine to Belize on June 12 and 150,000 doses each to Bolivia and Paraguay on FedEx airplanes on Sunday.
Direct Relief helped in securing the specialized shipping containers needed to keep the vaccines from Mexico cold and arranging for the medicine to be safely packed.
“I am deeply grateful to Direct Relief as well as to Eddie Mendoza, Director of Direct Relief México, for cold chain donations to Belize, Bolivia and Paraguay, as well as the support to bring vaccines from the United States,” said Martha Delgado Peralta, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “With your help, lives are being saved!”
Currently, Paraguay and Bolivia are experiencing the worst surges of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began last year.
On Friday, Paraguay saw 390 new cases per million people, while Bolivia reported 203 per million, versus 46 per million in the U.S., according to ourworldindata.org.
In Paraguay, less than 5 percent of the population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, and in Bolivia about 13 percent of the population have received at least one shot.
Direct Relief has sent more than 2,076 tons of personal protective equipment and nearly 300 million doses of medication during the pandemic.
“It’s a privilege for Direct Relief to join FedEx and help execute this critical provision of COVID-19 vaccine from the government of the U.S. to the government of Mexico, and we are profoundly grateful to FedEx for making it possible,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “As we move into a period when large volumes of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be shared between countries, Direct Relief stands ready to help whenever needed.”
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