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SinoPharm vaccine from China

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday sat with Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram to finalise a pre-order for the China-made Sinopharm vaccine.

The vaccine is yet to receive World Health Organisation (WHO) approval but Deyalsingh said that he was putting in a pre-order, contingent on WHO compliance.

According to yesterday’s updated WHO COVID-19 vaccines listing, Sinopharm is now expected to be approved by “earliest April”. The status of the assessment is listed as “in progress”.

“We will place an order, pending approval and once approval has been given by the WHO, it means we already have one foot in the door,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

“You can place what is called an indicative order,” he said.

Deyalsingh said this process was not new and specific to Tuesday’s discussions between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and China President Xi Jinpeng.

“All the bilateral talks we have had, we have given then indicative orders,” he said.

On February 23, Rowley had written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting a donation of vaccines and also put in a request to purchase vaccines.

At the time, the Government had said that they waited until the vaccine had WHO approval before engaging India for the vaccine. The WHO approved the India-made vaccine on February 15.

It is unclear if there was an indicative order with India but when asked, Deyalsingh said “it was a different story” which he did not want to get into.

Meanwhile the Opposition yesterday issued a media release saying that “Rowley’s hypocrisy” contradicted “Deyalsingh’s lying excuses”.

“Are they hiding something more sinister than their incompetence and inability to govern?”, the Opposition asked.

“On 12 February, Dr Roodal Moonilal forced Dr Rowley to admit in Parliament that Trinidad and Tobago has been in discussion with China about procuring vaccines since October 2020, but T&T did not approach the Government of India, even as vaccine shipments from India had already reached the Caribbean,” the Opposition said.

“To excuse their failure which has placed our country near the bottom of the global heap, Rowley, Deyalsingh and the others made up nancy stories about using only WHO-approved vaccines and “putting safety first”.

“This unnecessary, subtle insult to the Government of India — all to distract from Rowley’s misgovernance — has caused some international diplomatic disturbance,” the Opposition noted.