Tatil Building, hearquarters of the ANSA McAl Group of Companies.

Rishard Khan

One of the largest conglomerates in the country, ANSA McAL has announced it would offer COVID-19 vaccines freely to all 6,000 of its employees and their immediate families once vaccines become available, in a drive themed the “ANSA McAL VacciNat on Initiative.”

In a release on Friday, the company said it believes that the private sector has a part to play in support of Government’s measures of getting the COVID-19 vaccine shot in the arms of every citizen who wants it.

The company encouraged others in the private sector to follow suit, the nation would be better for it.

“If other members of the private sector, in turn, commit to doing the same with its own population of staff the shared burden of responsibility would mean the country and region will get back on its feet so much faster,” it said.

The group said it intends to collaborate and partner with Government Ministries of Health in the territories in which it operates. This, it said, is because, at the moment, COVID-19 vaccines can only be procured through official Government channels.

The conglomerate said if the opportunity for it to acquire vaccines on its own arises, it would take it.

“We consider availability and uptake of vaccination as a priority to protect the wider population and as essential to the recovery of our region’s economies. Therefore, should the opportunity present itself in the future to source WHO-approved vaccines on the open market through reputable pharmaceutical companies, then ANSA McAL will seek to do so,” it said in a subsequent release.

The vaccination of its employees builds upon ANSA McAL’s on-going COVID-19 public education awareness campaign titled: “A small dose of Hope.” It’s intended to inform and educate the general population on the need for taking the COVID-19 vaccine and to counter “some of the misleading sources of information in the public domain that create confusion and uncertainty.”

“We see this as an opportunity for the private sector to step up and contribute to eradicating this unprecedented public health contagion, which has had an adverse social and economic impact on the countries in the region. As a homegrown regional conglomerate with a 140-year history and commitment to serving the region across sectors, we are duty-bound to do our part in sharing the burden of responsibility with the public sector, for the benefit of the Caribbean region, its citizens and our communities.” the statement said.

Meanwhile, acting Minister of Planning and Development, Allyson West, announced the Support for Vulnerable Populations Affected by Coronavirus in Trinidad and Tobago (SUVPAC) Programme.

The agreement signed with the Inter-American Development Bank on Tuesday will see US$24.45 million deployed “in the urgent execution of COVID-19 management measures geared towards ensuring minimum levels of quality of life for vulnerable persons amid the crisis caused by the pandemic in Trinidad and Tobago.”

In a release, Minister West said: “This agreement will support minimum income for those affected by the coronavirus in the immediate period and during the recovery. The agreement does not see Trinidad and Tobago taking on additional debt but instead redirects existing uncommitted loan resources to new and urgent high priority public investment areas that require financing during this critical period.”