US$9.7m set aside for vaccine

Minister of  Health Terrence Deyalsingh. -
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh. -

EVEN as the country went past the sobering milestone of 5,000 covid19 infections on Friday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh disclosed during the budget debate that Government has approved US$9.7m for the purchase of a successful covid19 vaccine.

He also disclosed that Government will build special temperature-controlled storage facilities for the vaccine whenever it arrives in TT.

Deyalsingh said TT has signed up to the Covax protocols (a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to covid19 vaccines worldwide). Through Covax, Deyalsingh said, “In the first instance we will get 280,000 vaccines. That will go initially to healthcare workers, the elderly, the immuno-compromised.”

He added these are the people who feel the brunt of the covid19 fallout. In a second tranch, Deyalsingh continued, “Once production ramps up, we will get our other 182,000 doses of vaccines.”

Outside of Covax, Deyalsingh said Government wants to keep as many irons in the fire and is in separate discussions with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm regarding a potential covid19 vaccine which it is developing.

Responding to earlier comments by Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir, about storing covid19 vaccines, Deyalsingh said Government will build three dieself and solar-powered walk-in chillers to store the vaccines.

Deyalsingh said these chillers will not be located at Nipdec’s C40 facility in Chaguaramas because there is not enough room to store the vaccines there, in addition to the 100,000 flu vaccines which are already there. He condemned Ragbir’s call for people not to go and get their flu vaccines at public health clinics because they could be entering hot zones for covid19.

Calling for political solidarity to deal with the virus. Deyalsingh said, “I’m simply asking the Opposition, if we do something wrong, point it out but follow the science which does not say that TT was saved in the first wave because of sunshine and masks are foolish.” He rejected Ragbir’s claim that outpatient clinics at various regional health authorities were closed. “Why would you say that?”

To date, Deyalsingh said Government has spent $79 million and launched 128 initiatives to deal with covid19. He said the main effort to curb the virus, continues to be adherence to the basic public health protocols that have been outlined since the pandemic started.

Deyalsingh also said people are now starting to learn about the long-term effects of covid19 which could even cause someone to be gasping for breath after climbing a single flight of stairs. The Prime Minister is expected to speak at today’s Health Ministry press briefing.


"US$9.7m set aside for vaccine"

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