Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh during yesterday’s sitting of the Senate.

A total of 173,600 COVID-19 vaccines from India, China and the COVAX facility is expected in coming weeks and “a couple months – and Government is thanking Prime Minister Keith Rowley for his work on the issue.”

The word came yesterday from Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh in the Senate, hours after the Prime Minister’s Office (OPM) announced that T&T will be getting 40,000 approved vaccines from India and has been offered 100,000 from China’s Sinopharm, pending approval.

Deyalsingh spoke about it after UNC Senator Wade Mark asked about uncertainty surrounding the purchase/supply of the 351,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines for T&T and whether that order had been cancelled. He reiterated that Government was in talks with Pfizer as late as March 4, 2021 and this is ongoing. He said he was happy to reannounce—after the OPM did—that TT will get 40,000 World Health Organisation-approved doses from India “And I want to thank the Prime Minister for his work,” he added.

Additionally, he added, pending WHO approval “… Which should be soon, we’ll be getting 100,000 doses from Sinopharm in China. Again, thanks to the Honourable Prime Minister.”

“And again, by the end of the month, as we said, we expect 33,600 doses from COVAX. So in total, we expect in the coming weeks and a couple of months a total of 173,600 vaccines in T&T.”

He continued, “Congratulations to the Prime Minister, this is non-political, he’s worked very hard behind the scenes and he’s said thanks to the people of India and China for these gifts.”

Mark sought assurance that the vaccines ordered from Pfizer would eventually arrive. Deyalsingh said the situation is one where demand outstrips supply.

He noted a Pfizer’s press release which stated that the Pfizer and Moderna companies, which were the only authorised vaccines distributors, as far back as February 23 needed to increase their combined deliveries to date of 80 million doses to reach their promised target of 220 million shots by March 31.

Deyalsingh added, “That is the state of global play—there is uncertainty.”

He again quoted Pfizer stating that with an upsided production goal of 2 billion vaccines this year, Pfizer and Biotech aren’t “resting on their laurels” and the time the company takes to produce a vaccine should soon be cut from 110 days to 60 days in their Project Lightspeed.

Deyalsingh added, “The point I’m trying to make is Pfizer is like the rest of vaccine manufacturers—these things aren’t available on a shelf that we just order and pick up. It’s a dynamic situation, supply is constantly trying to catch up with demand. As a result, it will be inappropriate for me to give assurances at this time.

“But be assured that the Government at all levels—Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs, Health – are working assiduously and to date, we can say with some degree of certainty that in the near future, 173,000 doses will be available to the public.”

Mark asked if T&T was being misled by Pfizer about a deadline to be met to buy the 351,000 vaccines. Deyalsingh said,”Pfizer didn’t ‘mislead’ us—that was the information at the time. This is an evolving, fluid situation for all countries and vaccine manufacturers. What we anticipate today is changing now at the minute. So there was no assurance – there was an indication.

“But things have changed with management of this global pandemic and up to now supply has not caught up with demand.”