The Sinopharm Beijing vaccines landed at the Piarco International Airport at 1:09 am on Wednesday 19th May 2021. (Image courtesy Ministry of Health)

One hundred thousand (100,000) doses of the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, which were manufactured by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co. Limited, landed at the Piarco International Airport at 1:09 am this morning, Wednesday 19th May 2021.

Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, was on hand to receive the vaccines, which were donated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

The vaccines began their journey to Trinidad and Tobago early on Tuesday morning, when they were shipped from the Beijing airport.

Confirmation came from Chinese Ambassador Fang Qiu in his social media pages.

“Confirmed. 100,000 Chinese vaccines have been shipped from Beijing airport en route to Port of Spain.  Heartfelt thanks to my dear Chinese and Trini colleagues in Beijing and Port of Spain who exhibited exemplary dedication and collaboration to achieve the most efficient delivery of the vaccines,” the social media post from His Excellency said.

The Chinese Ambassador continued to track the movement of the precious cargo as it made its way to this country.  There was a brief stopover in Toronto, Canada, before the final leg of the journey home to sweet T&T.

“After a smooth transfer of consignment at Toronto airport, the 100,000 Chinese vaccines are reaching nearer to T&T,” he reported at about 9 pm on Tuesday night.

“Thanks go to Hainan Airlines, Caribbean Airlines and CAINIAO for their concerted efforts enabling this safe and swift delivery. CAINIAO, a tech-driven global logistics solutions provider in China, also offered the innovative real-time temperature monitoring service… I believe new models of China-TT partnership like this will generate enormous impetus to post-COVID recovery,” he said.

His Excellency pledged China’s commitment “to supporting T&T in its ongoing efforts to mitigate the pandemic and restore normalcy to the country”.

About the Sinopharm Beijing vaccine

The Sinopharm Beijing vaccine received WHO approval for emergency use on May 7th. It is an inactivated vaccine, similar to the flu and polio vaccines.  Like all other available COVID-19 vaccines, Sinopharm Beijing is highly effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalization due to COVID-19.

The WHO says the vaccine is not recommended for persons younger than 18 years of age, pending the results of further studies in that age group.  However, it can be offered to people who have had COVID-19 in the past.  The recommendation is that former COVID patients wait six months before being vaccinated.

The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization recommends the use of BIBP vaccine as 2 doses (0.5 ml) given intramuscularly.  The WHO recommends an interval of 3–4 weeks between the first dose and the second dose.

“If the second dose is administered less than 3 weeks after the first, the dose does not need to be repeated. If administration of the second dose is delayed beyond 4 weeks, it should be given at the earliest possible opportunity. It is recommended that all vaccinated individuals receive two doses,” the WHO advises.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram recently noted in a media conference that a shorter time between doses is good, because that means fully vaccinated people in a shorter space of time, which can help this country get to herd immunity against COVID-19 that much quicker.

For more on the Sinopharm Beijing vaccine, visit https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/the-sinopharm-covid-19-vaccine-what-you-need-to-know.