The final quantities of vaccines from the US to be allocated to Caricom and the Caribbean would be determined in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) but there’s no word yet on how many T&T will get or when.
Information on the US’ action was confirmed by the Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne following a meeting with Special Assistant to US President Joe Biden, Juan Sebastian Gonzalez on the specifics on the US’ vaccine distribution plan.
Gonzalez said vaccines would be distributed through the COVAX facility primarily as well as other initiatives. He added vaccines would be sourced from multiple manufacturers, with the first allocation of 25 million doses (out of the 80 million) envisaged to take place before the end of June.
On Browne’s advocacy on behalf of T&T and Caricom states experiencing a surge in cases, Gonzalez indicated these concerns will be taken into account and the final quantities of vaccines being allocated to Caricom and the Caribbean would be determined in collaboration with CARPHA. The latter is based in T&T.
Gonzalez assured there would be additional global vaccine rollouts once surplus doses were obtained. There was also consensus on the important role to be played by CARPHA in assisting with urgent vaccine rollout in the Caricom region.
The US promised further communication “in the near future” to respond to questions raised yesterday.
So far China’s Sinopharm has given T&T the highest number of vaccines—100,000. More was reportedly ordered. Doses from the African Medical Supplies Platform are also expected and there’s also been word on talks with the European Union.
UNC Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial has raised questions about exactly when T&T will attain herd immunity after National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds reportedly assured a group on WhatsApp that T&T was reaching herd immunity in “a few short months.”
Speculation was further fuelled by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s comment that the next Carnival would be the “mother of all Carnivals.” Although he did not give a date for the next Carnival, it’s been interpreted by some that Carnival 2022 is on and that herd immunity will be reached before that.
Speculation on attaining herd immunity also rose after the US’ announcement it would give six million of its 80 million vaccines to 12 Latin America, countries and the Caribbean, including T&T, Haiti, Dominican Republic.
On Thursday White House Deputy Press Secretary for the Vice President, Sabrina Singh posted that US Vice President Kamala Harris had separate calls that day with the leaders of India, Ecuador, Mexico and T&T.
Harris notified each leader her administration will begin sharing the first 25 million doses of vaccines to their countries.
The first three countries have been reported at various periods of having the world’s highest COVID death rate. T&T with 1.3 million people has had 556 deaths to date.
Lutchmedial said the AG’s boast regarding the “Mother of all Carnivals” was “yet another instalment of the PR campaign aimed at diverting attention away from the fact Government has led T&T into a health crisis, which has morphed into an economic, social and education crisis because of their incompetence.”
“Worse, government hasn’t presented a single viable plan to address the ‘echo effect’ of the pandemic—the long-lasting social and economic fallout, which would be felt long after virus spread is under control.”
“Whilst the UNC called for non-essential workers to be able to go out to work, the AG who appears more interested in entertainment and frivolity than enacting good laws has attempted to assuage the fears of T&T’s struggling artistes by selling hopes and dreams which cannot materialise without vaccines for all and a revitalised economy.”
“Instead of pie in the sky promises, Government should tell us when we expect to reach the desired 70 per cent vaccination rate, what it will do to assist small/medium businesses forced to close during the pandemic and plans to treat with children who’ve fallen behind in school or dropped out.”