#2021WCA: Building the Regional Recovery Agenda

Leaders from the private and public sectors called for creativity and collaboration in Latin America's pandemic recovery.


  • Roberto Alvarez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominican Republic
  • Julie Gerberding, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer, Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Reina Irene Mejía, Executive Vice President, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Shery Ahn, Anchor, Bloomberg Television (moderator)

“Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing three crises at the same time that are all closely linked: a public health crisis, an economic crisis, and an inequality crisis,” said Reina Irene Mejía, the Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank, at the 51st Washington Conference on the Americas. Mejía, alongside fellow panelists Julie Gerberding, Vice President and Chief Patient Officer at Merck & Co., and Roberto Alvarez, the Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs, explored the progress of pandemic recovery in region and the potential for further collaboration.

“There is no recovery without vaccination,” said Mejía. Reaching critical inoculation levels, however, depends on both the ability to produce sufficient vaccines and the capacity of governments to get doses to the most vulnerable through supply and distribution chains. Gerberding said, “There’s unity in immunity, and we need to recognize that we’re not safe until everyone is safe.” But, she warned that loosening intellectual privacy laws are not the way to speed up vaccine production, citing the long term need for private investment in medicine. 

Alvarez offered a on-the-ground view from the Dominican Republic—spotlighting their efforts to acquire vaccines and encourage economic opening. There has been neither a unified regional or global response to the pandemic, he said. Instead of waiting for one, the Dominican government has worked to bring economic activity to the country to help speed up recovery. “Our free trade zones have already recovered all of the jobs that have been lost during the pandemic,” he shared. Nevertheless, Mejía said, “we are all together on this. The public-private-multilateral triad is more urgent and necessary than ever."