It has been one year since the first cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) began popping up in the Caribbean. Since then, more than 554,542 infections were record and at least 7,905 people have died.

Close to 200,000 infections are active.

Most countries were economies all but collapsed, as their main income earner tourism was no longer available. These countries were also recovering from the impact of hurricanes from previous years and had to weather an overactive season in 2020.

Now there’s a fight on to get life saving vaccines. To this end the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has announced a first-of-its kind initiative that would help Latin American and Caribbean countries better compete to obtain COVID-19 vaccines.

In a statement it says the instrument would help both countries and vaccine makers resolve indemnity obligations, thereby removing a key obstacle to vaccine contract negotiations.

The initiative also aims to help design and implement regulatory reforms that facilitate the acquisition and distribution of vaccines. The IDB is the first multilateral development bank to offer such an instrument to its clients.

Until now, governments in many countries have found it challenging to purchase vaccines while simultaneously figuring out how to satisfy pharmaceutical company concerns about the potential cost of liabilities related to the widespread use of new COVID-19 vaccines.

Today’s announcement is an attempt to empower developing nations in their vaccine discussions and provide them with a unique guarantee instrument aimed at improving the terms and conditions on which vaccines are delivered.

The IDB will complement these efforts with the private sector and seek to collaborate through the work of IDB Invest and IDB Lab.

“Make no mistake about it, the ability to receive and distribute vaccines is a race that will largely determine the economic and social future of countries around the world. Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean must receive the support needed to obtain vaccines that are critical to kickstarting economies in the Americas,” said IDB president Mauricio Claver-Carone.

Concerns over how to reduce the potential cost of liabilities have been a stumbling block for too long for countries desperate to obtain vaccines, end the pandemic and reverse the brutal unemployment and poverty setbacks caused by COVID-19.

This new initiative has the potential to change the reality of many countries and improve access to vaccines, accelerate a recovery for the region, and mitigate risks for pharmaceutical companies that want to do business in Latin America and the Caribbean.