Another COVID spat has occurred between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, as Rowley yesterday redirected UNC MPs to their leader when they pressed him on whether he’d taken one of the Pfizer vaccines given by the United States to the National Security Ministry.
The issue arose in the House of Representatives yesterday, as Rowley was answering Opposition queries. Persad-Bissessar was not at the sitting.
During the segment, Rowley clashed with UNC MPs, particularly Rodney Charles and Dr Roodal Moonilal.
Rowley was asked about the 400 Pfizer vaccines the US recently sent to the National Security Ministry. He said they were used by members of National Security departments.
He wasn’t prepared to identify individuals and didn’t have the information of who exactly. He said he’d ask the Health Ministry if their patient records were available.
On the classification of National Security intelligence people who got the vaccines, he said depending on the answers about that, he may or may not get it—and if it was a matter of national security, he may not.
Rowley was then asked by UNC’s Arnold Ram if he’d gotten one of the Pfizer vaccines.
Rowley replied, “I wish the Opposition members would stop attempting to mislead the public with blatant lies and untruths.
“I have stated to this country— unlike the other leader in this House—I told the country, unlike the other leader in this House, unlike the other leader in this House—I told the country when I was diagnosed as a COVID positive patient.
“I told the country when I was in isolation. I told the country when I can be vaccinated. The Health Minister told T&T the date on which I can be vaccinated.
“So to come here today to ask if I took from the 400 (vaccines), you are just a mischief-maker! Go and find out from your leader when she took it…and when she got COVID…,” before his voice trailed off.
The UNC’s Rodney Charles pressed Rowley, “Simple question: did you get the vaccine?”
Rowley replied, “I wouldn’t dignify out-of-place questions with an answer. You are a stranger to the truth!”
In a subsequent press statement, Persad-Bissessar denied she ever had the COVID-19 virus.
She alleged, “Rowley again lied to the country under Parliamentary privilege when asked the serious question of whether or not he was vaccinated from the supply of Pfizer vaccines that entered the country secretly. He again refused to answer the simple question of whether he took the secret Pfizer vaccine.”
She added, “I’m so sorry to disappoint my devoted admirers in PNM, but I don’t have COVID and never did…almost 800 people have died from COVID-19: Rowley must stop dreaming about Kamla and do his job.”
Contacted yesterday, PNM MP Symon de Nobrega said Rowley didn’t say Persad-Bissessar had COVID.
Moonilal also said Rowley didn’t explicitly state Persad-Bissessar had COVID.
“But he insinuated it clearly and didn’t withdraw it from the public record when we asked. That constitutes public mischief,” Rowley said.
Rowley also clashed with Charles, denying Charles’ claim that Finance Minister Colm Imbert had said the elderly were a burden on Government.
Rowley said, “The fact that (Charles) said that is a good chance it’s not true—I’ve not heard the minister or any minister say the elderly is a burden on any part of the Government. If that was true, the Parliament will not pay the MP for Naparima.”
On Charles’ query about the performance of the Group DC lobbyist firm T&T is engaged with in the US, Rowley said the lobbyist is doing considerably valued work for T&T and allowed the country to be able to reach, speak to and maintain inter-governmental contacts at the highest US levels.
“And Government’s very satisfied with the work the lobbyist is doing alongside T&T’s mission,” he said.