Chairman of The University of the West Indies COVID-19 Task Force, Professor Clive Landis, says the arrival of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on Caribbean shores marks a new phase in the region’s fight against the disease.
“This marks the start of a new phase in the pandemic in which we start the ‘fight back’ against COVID-19,” Professor Clive Landis says.
Earlier this month, Barbados received a donation of 100,000 doses of vaccine from India and subsequently has shared the doses with Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia among some other Eastern Caribbean territories.
Professor Landis, who is an Immunologist, noted that the AstraZeneca vaccine has shown 76% efficacy after one shot, and 82% efficacy after the booster shot, in the latest phase 3 clinical trial involving more than 35,000 people in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
He also stated that the European Medicines Agency has given full regulatory approval for all persons over 18 years, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) likewise has endorsed the AstraZeneca vaccine for all adults over 18 years, and against all strains of the virus.
Last week, WHO vaccine experts announced that the AstraZeneca vaccine could be used for people over the age of 65, and also in settings where variants of the virus are circulating. It has already been administered to over 10 million people in the UK without serious side effects, and has an excellent safety profile.
Addressing concerns about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, Professor Landis affirmed, “Even for those persons who may still contract the virus, vaccination prevents all severe disease and hospitalizations.
“This is an exciting time in the pandemic in which we have the opportunity to save lives and curb the spread,” Professor Landis observed.
“I really want to urge all persons who are eligible, according to their risk category by age or profession, to take the vaccine,” he added.