China has prioritised and expedited vaccines provision to T&T says Chinese Ambassador Fang Qiu. Picture Courtesy Chinese Ambassador Fang Qiu.

RENUKA SINGH

Eight hundred thousand Sinopharm jabs, enough to vaccinate 400,000 people, is expected to arrive in the country on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is expected to receive his vaccination next week.

Rowley gave the update on the Government’s vaccine acquisition at the COVID-19 media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on Saturday.

“As I speak to you now, in the air, on the way to us, and scheduled to arrive here on Tuesday morning is a shipment of 800,000 vaccines,” he said.

The country already received 200,000 vaccines from China; 100,000 donated and another 100,000 was purchased.

He said that T&T had a “line of purchase” with China.

The Prime Minister could not give the cost of the vaccines as that is protected by a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), he said.

“You don’t sign it, you don’t get it,” he said.

“We placed orders expecting vaccines to come from here, to come from there, what if it doesn’t come?” he said.

Rowley said that we were able to procure the vaccines because of the “good relationship” with China.

“All of that together means that we would have had, in hand, just over 1.2 million doses,” he said.

“As of today we can look confidently at being able to vaccinate 600,000 people,” he said.

Rowley said that the State was also expecting a shipment from the African Medical Supplies platform in July.

The Prime Minister said that after a year and a half of battling with the virus, the country needed to vaccinate some 900,000 people.

He said that the country has come a long way since April.

“Had we not got these initial gifts, very small quantities, there would have been no vaccine in Caricom,” he said.

Rowley said that 70 per cent of all the vaccines have gone to a “handful of rich and powerful countries in the world.” The rest of the world, he said, had to access less than one per cent of the vaccines produced.

“That is the fact,” he said.

He said that despite that situation, there was now hope in T&T.

“If we are able to vaccinate 900,000 of the 1.4 million, our target would have been met,” he said, adding that the 900,000 would get the country to herd immunity.

Rowley said that the other doses expected within the next two months would only bolster the country’s vaccine rollout.

He said that by mid-July there should be no restrictions to getting the vaccine.

Rowley said that while the vaccine was voluntary, he hoped people understood the serious situation of not taking the vaccine.

He said that people who are vaccinated respond better if they contracted the virus, while unvaccinated people contracting COVID-19 could lead to death.

“We now have a choice to make,” he said.