Basseterre: Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr Timothy Harris said that his Team Unity administration is committed to ensuring the highest level of safety and protection for its citizens and residents in the use of COVID-19 vaccines, and as such it will only consent to the vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use.
On Tuesday, June 8, the Prime Minister responded to a question posed by a caller at the latest issue of Leadership Matters about the government’s decision to use the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in St Kitts and Nevis, instead of permitting other vaccines.
Prime Minister Harris responded by saying: “We have a vaccine that is used by a majority of countries around the world. The best vaccine is the one you have, and we have one that has been tested and widely used. When we called the decision, we were advised that it was best for our region.”
Dr Harris said his government is guided by science and relies on information provided by reputable agencies such as the World Health Organization, which has been at the forefront of the fight against the deadly virus.
The Prime Minister said he was also made aware of cases where a small group of irresponsible citizens are encouraging people to wait for the arrival of vaccines developed in Cuba. Those vaccines have yet to get the green light through the WHO.
On Tuesday’s live program, Prime Minister Harris read out a letter he received from the Cuban embassy on June 8. The letter stated in part: “Regarding the request for information on the development of the Cuban COVID-19 vaccines by the Honorable Prime Minister Timothy Harris, Cuba, there are five more candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine still awaiting approval.”
“So you have to ask yourself why a doctor who knows better should encourage people to look for something that is not actually available to them. We have as a policy for the protection of people in St Kitts and Nevis have determined that any vaccine we use here must have the approval of the World Health Organization, which is the main body involved in public health,” said Prime Minister Harris.
To date, the World Health Organization has listed seven COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. Such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; two AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine – one produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the other by the Serum Institute of India; the vaccine developed by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson); the Modern COVID-19 vaccine; the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine and the recently approved Sinovac COVID vaccine.