Haiti, already reeling from a recent 7.2-magnitude earthquake and lashing rains from Tropical Storm Grace, could face another deadly disaster in the coming months due to the population’s low COVID-19 vaccination rate, Northeastern professors say. At least 1,400 people have died following the Aug. 14 earthquake, which struck 11 years after a similar-sized quake devastated Port au Prince in 2010, killing 200,000. The country has grappled with ongoing structural and political instability, including the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Fewer than 1% of Haiti’s 11 million residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19. “That means the vast majority of the population remains at high risk of transmission,” says Brook K. Baker, a law professor at Northeastern who studies the inequities of vaccine distribution during the pandemic.
The lack of vaccinations and personal protection equipment in Haiti, as well as the likelihood that large numbers of people will be closely interacting as they seek food and shelter in the coming months, could trigger any number of super-spreader events, says Baker.