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A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, on Thursday. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May.

T&T must be cautious about becoming part of a “guinea pig” programme involving use of a drug that only has emergency licence approval, UNC MP Roodal Moonilal has warned.

Moonilal spoke after yesterday’s Government media briefing.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said arrangements are being made with Sinopharm to get 100,000 vaccines after that company got an emergency license approval for its vaccine use.

He said there are two vaccines by that company—Sinopharm Beijing vaccine and Sinopharm Wuhan vaccine.

Deyalsingh said T&T will get the Sinopharm Beijing vaccine.

He said after the first 100,000 China had offered T&T, Government will thereafter seek hundreds of thousands of vaccines from Sinopharm. He said the Sinopharm vaccines will be out next week and Government is working on the matter.

Deyalsingh also said 32,000 more vaccines from Covax are due on Monday. “We’ll vaccinate our way out of the pandemic,” he added.

But Moonilal expressed concern at the aspect of T&T nationals being part of a “guinea pig” situation with a vaccine that only has emergency licence approval.

“Questions must be asked on the efficacy of this Chinese vaccine. Also, with the different types of vaccines Government is getting for the public we’ve heard no information on how this latest vaccines may or may not be compatible with vaccines from China and other places,” he said.

Moonilal said while the daily COVID infection rate showed the situation is more dangerous now, closing places won’t be as effective without mass vaccination “which has failed since they’re procuring vaccines at an abysmally slow rate and a clearly ad hoc plan since they come every now and again and add information.”

Moonilal said Prime Minister Keith Rowley, who addressed yesterday’s briefing, “appeared to have been talking to his children, not the population because there’s no law to prevent people from going out on the road, travelling or visiting anyone.

“He’s trying to control behaviour, but if you really want to handle the situation properly, all you need to do is pass law for it — but he’s scared to go to Parliament to do so. The reason why people aren’t taking him on is that the measures aren’t law passed in Parliament.”

“Any citizen can challenge the edicts they’re issuing. And in the absence of closing the border to illegals he’s spinning top in mud. People will continue coming,’’ Moonilal said.

Moonilal noted concerns recently voiced by police about handling Venezuelan migrants following outbreak of the Brazilian virus variant.

He added: “Illegal migration was a creeping crisis and is now a ticking time bomb because of the negative legacy consequences of Keith Rowley and Stuart Young’s border security policy. The Point Fortin mayor’s case of getting COVID shows how bad the situation is in that South Western peninsula area.

“Police must have protective equipment to handle migrants, they’re understandably fearful – the Brazilian variant is reportedly 2.5 times as highly transmissible as the original virus. So I also understand the fear of people when others perceived as illegal come in to places.”

Moonilal suggested a temporary process that can allow illegal migrants to be checked for COVID-19 without fear, “since they would be afraid to go to health centres or hospitals.”

The Confederation of 15 regional business chambers stated it was heartened by news of more vaccines arriving and by Government’s move to produce support for the vulnerable and those deprived of income.

The Confederation had noted views on TV6 by business leaders from both islands, added, “ There were rising levels of frustration and disquiet not only within the ranks of the business sector, but among citizens as there was perception there was inequality that public sector workers were sent home with full pay, while private sector workers were being laid off or deprived of wages.’’