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Caroni East MP Dr Rishard Seecheran left makes a point, during the UNC press conference at Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday at right is Naparima MP, Rodney Charles.

The United National Congress (UNC) is again slamming Government’s decision to await the World Health Organisation (WHO) approvals before procuring doses. The move, it says not only puts the country at the back of the line but is part of the People’s National Movement’s “manufactured vaccine crisis.”During a press conference yesterday, UNC MP for Caroni East and shadow Minister of Health Dr Rishad Seecharran said countries that are currently ahead of T&T in its vaccination drives did not await the WHO approval and were able to gain an advantage.”The United Kingdom approved the Pfizer vaccine on December 2, 2020, Bahrain on December 5, 2020, the United States on December 11 and Canada on the 14 December 2020. WHO did not deliver emergency use listing of the Pfizer vaccine until December 31, 2020,” he said.”My point being, the vast majority of countries around the world pre-ordered vaccines based on data provided from phase three trials and many have begun vaccinating their public before WHO authorisation.”He said even Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that the country’s Ministry of Health approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine 10 days before it was given the WHO approval. Dr Seecharan noted that it was not a situation where vaccines were being used without any sort of approval. He explained that each candidate would have needed to attain some version of regulatory approval to be administered to populations.”Some nations approved their vaccines through a national agency such as the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration), in America while others may choose to do so through another international agency such as the WHO…the United Kingdom- they do it through their Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, and the European does it through the European Medicines Agency,” he said.He also said if the same approach used recently to pre-order Sinopharm doses from China dependent on a WHO approval was used when the country set aside funding for vaccines in October, the country would have had doses by now. “Today, we would be vaccinating our citizens as the rest of the world is doing instead of trying to find excuses that have no standard in science. For example, we went from the lowest testing rate in CARICOM to the lowest vaccination rate right now in CARICOM…we are at the bottom of CARICOM right now,” he said. Through the pandemic, the government has maintained that it would only procure and administer vaccines which have received WHO approval.