EFELa Romana (Dominican Republic)

Former Dominican President Leonel Fernandez said that Latin America missed the opportunity to unite against the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis it has generated.

Latin America "must return to the idea of integration" to face the uncertainty resulting from the pandemic and to "have a single voice at a global level," Fernandez defended in an interview with Efe, in which he regretted that currently "the opposite is happening, everything is very fragmented."

"Faced with a global problem there must be a global response. But if each country begins to negotiate, bilaterally or multilaterally, little will be achieved and, in fact, we have lost a great opportunity to have responded as a region" to Covid-19 "instead of doing it individually."

The global strategy in health "has been the search for a vaccine," but now we are facing "a battle of speed" between the vaccination process and the mutations that generate new variants" of the virus, such as Omicron.

Fernandez referred to the "gap" between countries "that can be vaccinated and those that cannot," and pointed to the situation in Africa, which "is entering a second stage of infection" with the mutation that has given rise to the Omicron variant.

There "few people are vaccinated," especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which "represents a threat to contain the spread of the virus on a global scale," he said.

In this regard, "Latin America has been doing better," he said, but the region still has 33 percent of Covid-19 deaths.

Of the five million deaths, one and a half million were in Latin America, so "there is a lot to be done" with regards to health.

"There is a process of economic reactivation. We are moving forward in that direction, the world is beginning to wake up, however, uncertainty persists," heightened by the appearance of the new variant "which we do not really know what effects it may have,” Fernández said.

"It is being discussed whether it has a higher level of transmissibility, a higher propagation rate. We do not know," he said, so its appearance "generates fear, anguish, anxiety, and the truth is that scientists still do not know" what repercussions it will have.

"What is clear is that the same variant has the possibility of 30 different types of mutations, which makes everything more complex" and, "although the world is moving forward, uncertainty still prevails", he insisted.

For the former president, "the message is that this is not over yet, that it is necessary to be vaccinated and to intensify the process" of immunization to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In the current "scenario of uncertainty" on a global scale, the migratory crisis is "a new ingredient" added to "the health, economic and existential crisis that humanity is suffering."

"This is a problem that we are having everywhere, as a result of unemployment, loss of income, disorientation," he said.

Fernandez spoke about these issues at the Global Forum @ Casa de Campo in La Romana, Dominican Republic, where international experts have gathered to analyze the situation caused by the pandemic, both from a health and economic perspective.

The forum aspires to "become a space for reflection to try to share knowledge and experiences that will allow us to face the future with a greater level of certainty and effectiveness" in the face of the pandemic and the crisis, the former head of state said. EFE