The Pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean: Assessing the Way Forward

Experts discussed countries' capacities to mitigate the public health crisis, covering vaccine distribution, recovery priorities, and public-private sector collaboration.


  • Fernando Llorca Castro, Ambassador of Costa Rica to the U.S.
  • Jarbas Barbosa da Silva, Assistant Director, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
  • Neil Parsan, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Parsan Cross Global Strategic Advisors
  • Carin Zissis, Editor-in-Chief, AS/COA Online, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
  • Steve Liston, Senior Director, Council of the Americas (moderator)

In an AS/COA panel assessing Latin America's way forward from the coronavirus pandemic, experts shared perspectives on the region's handling of the Covid crisis, vaccine progress, and its persistent challenges. Carin Zissis set the stage for the panel with a presentation on AS/COA Online's vaccine tracker, as well as some major developments such as the 500 million-dose U.S. donation to the world. “We need to be cautious about when countries will be fully vaccinated…Where countries are [in terms of progress] doesn’t necessarily tell us where countries will be,” she said. PAHO's Dr. Jarbas Barbosa da Silva named some difficulties in countries' mitigation of public health measures, including debates over mask-wearing and preventative medicines, and general COVID-19 fatigue. He sees two key pillars for recovery: Support for countries in monitoring epidemiological situations while establishing a review process of the effectiveness of health measures, and building strategies to increase vaccine access to reach the 70 to 80 percent threshold for herd immunity.

Neil Parsan honed in on the Caribbean's management of vaccines, and reiterated Barbosa's second pillar saying "We don't have a problem of vaccine hesitancy, we have a huge problem of vaccine access." On the importance of public-private collaboration, he said: "The earlier the engagement, the better a society will be," and those engagements should align with national response efforts. Ambassador of Costa Rica to the U.S. Fernando Llorca Castro noted that the delivery of vaccines became a huge problem to solve, and trade policy was one way that governments looked toward a better recovery strategy. "The only way to do this properly is to work together, and try to develop strategies for a long-term relationship."