Colombia became the first nation in the Americas to receive coronavirus vaccines through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program. The delivery of 117,000 doses on Monday marks the first shipment of 20 million agreed upon between the national government and the global health entity. The WHO is committed to delivering 20 million doses this year to immunize 10 million Colombians. “More than six months ago, we announced that Colombia would become part of the multi-lateral Covax strategy to reach an efficient solution to the covid crisis,” remarked President Iván Duque inside a cargo warehouse at Bogotá’s El Dorado airport.

The WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked the opportunity to accompany Colombia with the vaccines on a “historic day,” and congratulated the country for having worked to make the hand-over possible. According to the WHO, by the end of May, 237 million doses will be allocated to 142 member nations of COVAX. “Access to vaccines is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing we can do,” stated Ghebreyesus. “Vaccines are currently a limited resource that must be used in a fair and intelligent manner,” he added. “We must strengthen our resolve to do things better […] there is hard work ahead to get control of this pandemic and restore economic activity in the world.” South Korea and India also received an initial shipment on the same day as Colombia.

As of Tuesday, more than 156,000 Colombians have been vaccinated, among them healthcare workers and persons above the age of 80. The Covax shipment cover under Decree 267, forensic scientists and epidemiologists. The country also registered 4,399 additional cases of coronavirus raising the total to 2,259,599. The number of active cases rose slightly to 36,400 from 36,040 on Sunday.

The death toll from the pandemic in Colombia stands at 59,972.