THE Government will receive 461,000 covid19 vaccine doses, to inoculate a third of the population amid the ongoing pandemic, the Prime Minister told the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
He was replying to an urgent question by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal about Trinidad and Tobago pre-ordering the vaccine, which is set to become available globally within days.
Dr Rowley said in September, TT had signed up to the Covax facility so as to get equal access to vaccines whenever they are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO.)
“TT has pre-ordered vaccines to cover 33 per cent of our population, that is, 461,000 persons, at a cost of $9.7 million. We have already made an initial payment of $1.477 million.
“Once a vaccine is approved we will receive, in the first instance, enough vaccine for 20 per cent of the population, that is, 279,000 persons.”
Rowley said priority will be given to high-risk groups, namely “elderly persons over 60, those with non-communicable diseases, health care and other front-line workers, and those who are immunocompromised, like those who are suffering from lupus or cancer. They will be our first citizens to access these vaccines.”
Moonilal, in a supplemental question, said some countries have set a date to start inoculations and asked if the Government likewise has any date in mind to do so, or whether it is awaiting any approvals from elsewhere.
Rowley replied that the UK is one country known to TT which is using the vaccine.
“In the US, even as we are speaking now, their vaccines have not been cleared by the relevant authority with any date to be distributed to the population.”
Rowley accused Moonilal of misleading the public and asked him to stop.
“There are no vaccines available globally for us now to have so we can set a date when you are going to have it and distribute it. That is just pure mischief, once again.
“Once we are advised by the WHO that the vaccines are cleared and ready to go and our portion is available, then we will know what we are getting and when we are getting it, and only then can we decide when it is going to be distributed.”
Saying the Government is making all preparations to receive the vaccines, the PM hit Moonilal, “Mischief afoot!”
Moonilal asked if it was mischievous to ask questions, but Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George ruled him out of order.