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Dr Erica Wheeler, country representative of the Pan American Health Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

No one country is deemed more eligible to receive vaccines over another.

Country representative of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Erica Wheeler yesterday dispelled speculation that the rise in local COVID-19 numbers meant that T&T was now better qualified to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations.

Wheeler responded to questions from the media about the vaccines and the local rise in cases.

“Countries are not deemed more eligible because it has a higher number of cases and deaths,” Wheeler said.

“There is no direct link between eligibility to receive vaccines based on the increasing number of cases,” she stressed.

Wheeler said that the agreement between the COVAX facility and the T&T Government still stands and that the facility will provide the vaccines.

“There was an agreement between the COVAX facility and the Government of T&T to provide a minimum of 20 per cent of the population with vaccines and T&T applied for more than that so that still stands, there would be no deviation from the commitment made by the COVAX facility,” she said.

“What is the case is that as more vaccines are approved and we now have the five vaccines that have been approved-Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and now Sinopharm, they will continue to be available through the COVAX facility,” she said.

“What is preventing more vaccines from coming is because manufacturers themselves have not been supplying the amount of vaccines that they once promised,” she said.

Wheeler referenced the situation with AstraZeneca in India where because of the massive outbreak, the India-based manufacturer had to reduce the export of vaccines.

Wheeler also said that there have been issues with the US-based manufacturers.

She admitted that there was a “challenge of supply” but was optimistic that “we would get there”.

T&T received its first batch of vaccines from the COVAX facility back in March and a second batch Monday. A third and final batch is expected but there is no delivery date yet.

This country is also expected to receive 100,000 Sinopharm vaccines donated by China and has entered into a commercial arrangement to purchase more.

Wheeler said that there was “good news” in that as many as 280 vaccines are in development and of that number, 97 were already in clinical trial stages.

“As the rest of the year goes by we would see more and more vaccines entering into the COVAX facility if they reach the standards for quality, safety and efficacy,” she said.