India High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago Arun Kumar Sahu says his country’s donation of 40,000 COVID-19 vaccines should be here next Monday.
Sahu’s office issued an update on the vaccine arrival to the media via email yesterday.
“The Government of India’s donation of 40,000 Covishield vaccines to Trinidad and Tobago is scheduled to arrive in Port-of-Spain on Monday, 12th April 2021. Necessary logistics have been put in place for its delivery,” Sahu said.
The delivery of the donated vaccines will mark the end of a long road of diplomatic discord between the State and the India High Commissioner.
Sahu and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley were initially at odds over whether there was any facility for CARICOM islands to access vaccine donations from India.
Both Barbados and Dominica had received vaccines donated from India by February and there were questions about whether T&T was late to request vaccines or whether the Indian High Commissioner did not alert the Government of the availability of vaccines from India, through its Vaccine Maitri programme.
Eventually, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne stepped in and met with Sahu and a joint statement was issued saying that the two groups would work together to get the vaccines to T&T.
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also broke established protocols when she wrote to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Prime Minister Rowley had also written to Modi making a request for vaccines.
T&T is also expected to receive 100,000 vaccines from China under the Sinopharm label once it receives World Health Organisation (WHO) approval.
Three weeks ago, Rowley met virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinpeng for bilateral talks which included discussions about access to vaccines.
Days later, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said that he and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram were putting together the pre-order for the China-made vaccine despite it not having the WHO approval.
The fulfilment of that order is contingent on WHO approval, he added.
According to the WHO, the Sinopharm vaccine was expected to be approved in early April. That status has since been changed to mid-April with its assessment listed as “in progress.”
Guardian Media reached out to Deyalsingh for an update on what was put in place for the delivery of the vaccines but there was no response up to last evening.