Trinidad and Tobago: UNC released a statement regarding the Vaccine crisis in Trinidad and Tobago; Dr Rowley had stated that the Government could not procure vaccines because the policy of the Government was to engage with the manufacturers only when the vaccines became WHO certified.
Let’s put things into perspective, and this novel coronavirus is just one year old.
Thus, every vaccine candidate had to get regulatory approval before being administered to the public.
Some nations do this through a national agency, such as the FDA in America, while others may choose to follow an international agency such as the WHO or the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency or the European Medicines Agency.
The first mass vaccination programme started in early December 2020, and as of March 20 2021, 420 million vaccine doses have been administered from 10 different manufacturers.
The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is being used in 86 countries, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in 78 countries, the Moderna vaccine in 33 countries, the Russian made Sputnik V vaccine in 19 countries, the Sinopharm vaccine in 19 countries and the Sinovac vaccine in 15 countries, just to name a few.
To date, the Moderna vaccine, with an efficacy rate of 96 %, has not been given WHO approval. Moderna has supply agreements of committed orders totalling more than 641 million doses.
In the United States – 300 million doses, European Union – 160 million doses, Japan – 50 million doses, Canada – 40 million doses, Korea – 40 million doses, Switzerland – 13 million doses, Columbia – 10 million doses, United Kingdom – 17 million doses, Israel – 6 million doses, Taiwan – 5 million doses, just to name a few.
While the WHO isn’t a regulator for sovereign nations, some nations follow its stamp of approval for early-stage vaccine rollouts.
But many others do not. UNC’s point is the vast majority of countries around the world pre-ordered vaccines based on the data provided from the Phase III Trials, and many have begun vaccinating their public before the WHO authorisation, including the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada.
In CARICOM, on 5TH February 2020, PM Mia Mottley of Barbados said that the country’s health ministry had confirmed that the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in Barbados and would be administered in accordance with the manufacturers’ guidelines.
The WHO did not authorise the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine till February 15 2021.
On a side note, the Oxford / AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has not received FDA authorisation to date.
Thus, while every other country in the world was were actively seeking out the best vaccines for their populations in 2020, our Government was sitting on their hands.
As the Minister of Health announced yesterday with the Sinopharm agreement, the lack of WHO authorisation is not a reason to make a pre-order of vaccines with a manufacturer, dependent on the vaccine receiving the necessary approvals.
If we had done this in October 2020, when we allocated funds in the Budget for the purchase of vaccines, today we would be busy vaccinating our citizens, as the rest of the world is doing, instead of trying to find excuses that have no standing in science.
PM Rowley has degraded our CARICOM neighbours such as Barbados implying, and they had “gone begging” for vaccines.
It would seem apparent PM Rowley expected Vaccine Manufacturers and World Leaders to look out for the interests of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
Our self touted “Best Salesman” dropped the ball in seeking out vaccines and is now creating a foreign relations uproar with World Leaders.
On January 22 2021, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking access to 200,000 doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine to vaccinate a large segment of their population of 287,000.
She eloquently wrote to Indian PM regarding vaccines. PNM is putting their lives in danger to serve our country. Was it so difficult for PM Rowley to write a letter to India?
Prime Minister Mia Mottley went on a week later to express her gratitude to the Indian government and the people for the “most generous” donation of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
I ask the question, “Did the PM of Barbados sound like she was begging? Or was this a responsible Prime Minister, seeking the interests of her citizens and her country?”
I am making a call to PM Rowley to stop insulting world leaders to cove rover his Minister of Health’s incompetence. The PM has also found himself in hot waters with the High Commissioner from India.
But I would like to advise PM Rowley that while the world has found a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus, one has not been found for “Foot In Mouth Disease.”
PM Rowley claimed to not know about India’s Vaccine Maitri Program or how our neighbouring CARICOM states came to receive generous donations of vaccines from India.
As the Chairman of CARICOM, this is rather curious. Did they all conspire not to tell PM Rowley?
The Vaccine Maitri is a humanitarian initiative undertaken by the Indian government to provide to other countries around the world.
The Indian government had started providing Indian made vaccines on January 20, 2021.
As of March 15 2021, the Government of India supplied 58.64 million Made-in-India Covid vaccines doses to over 70 nations.
When our Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote to India on behalf of our country, over 100 nations had already written to India, requesting vaccines.
Jamaica has thanked Indian efforts in delivering vaccines to developing and least developed countries.
St. Lucia, on behalf of CARICOM, thanked India for providing vaccine supplies to them.
Guatemala has thanked India for accepting the call of assistance to supply vaccines.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the supply of ‘Made in India’ COVID-19 vaccines.
She tweeted, “PM Modi made it possible for thousands of persons in Barbados and tens of thousands elsewhere to receive their 1st dose of Covid-19 vaccine before receiving his.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne had thanked Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi “for demonstrating an act of benevolence, kindness and empathy”, for sending vaccines to Caribbean countries.
Almost every great West Indian Cricketer has also given thanks to India for helping their respective countries, from Sir Vivian Richards of Antigua to Jimmy Adams of Jamaica; they have all paid their respects.
After India sent 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Canada, billboards with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thanking India were put up in the Greater Toronto area.
The billboards hailed the Canada-India friendship. Is it that this Rowley Government has put Trinidad and Tobago into such global isolation that 70 countries have received vaccines from India, but we have not?
The top vaccine manufacturers have sold out all of their current supply and most of their future production of 2021. We are at the back of the line in procuring vaccines for our citizens.
UNC stated, “We have only PM Rowley and Minister Deyalsingh to thank for this. Schools cannot reopen, jobs are being lost, businesses are shutting down, borders remain closed, and the recession is getting deeper due to the incompetence of this Government.”