Dr Carissa Etienne

T&T is now one step closer to acquiring a vaccine for COVID-19 whenever one is discovered.

This is according to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh who attributed the move to recent correspondence between Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) head Dr Carissa Etienne and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

“What it means is if and when you have a safe, reliable vaccine regardless of its price of production, Trinidad and Tobago via the honourable Prime Minister…we are now firmly a part of the PAHO bargaining process to bring potential vaccines to Trinidad and Tobago,” Deyalsingh said after reading the correspondence between the two officials.

Deyalsingh explained this means that T&T would not need to go to any manufacturer directly as an individual country to acquire it.

Reading directly from a letter sent to Dr Rowley on July 2 from PAHO, Deyalsingh said: “At our recently convened 166th session of the executive committee last month resolution CEI66.R5 was adopted, directing our organisation to support member states…in engaging with global initiatives such as COVID-19 tools, accelerators for vaccines.”

According to Deyalisngh’s reading of the response by Dr Rowley which was sent on Monday, the Prime Minister confirmed the country’s interest in accessing the vaccine “using the PAHO revolving fund mechanism”.

However, he noted in the letter that the country’s expression of interest was “non-binding at this stage.” —Rishard Khan