President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris.

With reporting by Renuka Singh

The United States announced yesterday it will give six million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean, bringing new hope for an increased number of vaccines coming to our shores.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was one of four national leaders to speak with US Vice President Kamala Harris yesterday about the donation, in his capacity as Caricom chairman.

The exact amount that will come to T&T is not yet known.

The US Government’s Fact Sheet on the donation said the six million vaccines, comprising mostly Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, will be shared between Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, as well as the Dominican Republic.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley did not respond to questions on this issue yesterday. His office, however, issued a statement, acknowledging that he met with Harris.

It said: “Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and Chairman of CARICOM, Dr the Hon Keith Rowley, held a telephone conference meeting with Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris today (Thursday, June 3, 2021). This is the very latest in a series of high-level contacts which the Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Rowley has been having with high-level officials of the US Administration in recent weeks.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne assured that the Prime Minister “will convey the specifics in due course”.

“Once all the details have been provided by the US Administration,” Browne said.

US Embassy on donation

Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Port-of-Spain, Shante Moore said the Embassy “has worked closely with regional counterparts, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and officials in Washington D.C. to ensure the region would be included in this donation. This is an example of what we envision as a strategic bilateral partnership working together to address and resolve issues of mutual importance to the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, and the region.”

The Embassy’s statement added, “We are sharing these doses not to secure favours, extract concessions, or pursue hidden agendas. We are not imposing conditions the way other countries are doing. The vaccines are being donated, free and clear. We are giving them for a single purpose – to end the pandemic and save lives.”

Yesterday’s announcement came days after the Prime Minister announced last week that the country purchased another 100,000 vaccines from Sinopharm in China and is expecting a tranche from the African Medical Supplies Platform.

Last week T&T also received another 10,000 AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Grenada.

Hinds optimistic

Meanwhile, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds yesterday told a WhatsApp chat group called T&T Citizens Overseas, that Trinidad and Tobago should achieve herd immunity in the next few months.

“We are now assured of getting vaccines in great quantities, such that T&T will easily get to “herd immunity” in a few short months! In those circumstances, even our border management arrangements will be, as now, constantly reviewed! God bless! Keep safe! Keep strong. We know it has not been easy! It has been hard for our government as well! Hard on your fellow citizens here! But it is a burden which we all had to and must share,” he said.

Faris sets stage for Carnival

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, hours before, told an online audience that the next Carnival will be the “Mother of all Carnivals” as he too pointed to the number of COVID vaccines coming into the country.

Al-Rawi did not state when the next Carnival would be but told the Twitter event known as ‘Faris in the Space’ that the country is on the way out of the pandemic.

He advised artistes that brighter days are on the way.

“We will come out of this pandemic,” he said.

“Next Carnival is going to be the mother of all Carnivals. Good days are ahead of us, and I’m very hopeful about it.”

He also used the platform to dismiss claims that money was a problem for the acquisition of vaccines.

“We are in every zone across every field possible. We will be coming out of this. We just have to hold on a bit longer.”

T&T red-listed in UK

However, despite the hopeful news coming out of the United States, this country also made another international list, this one not as favourable.

The United Kingdom added T&T to its “red list” which means that any T&T national entering the UK would require a 10-day hotel quarantine.

Britain added six other countries alongside T&T, including Egypt, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica and Sudan.