The Opposition is criticising the Government for not being proactive enough to pre-order covid19 vaccines for the country.
This statement was made at a press conference on Sunday at the Office of the Opposition Leader in Port of Spain by Dr Rishad Seecheran, MP for Caroni East, shadow minister of health for the United National Congress (UNC).
He said countries such as Chile ordered vaccines in 2020, allowing it to purchase 35.7 million doses.
“Chile didn’t hesitate to make contracts with Pfizer or AstraZeneca. The key was that very early on they realised it was necessary to close multiple deals with a number of vaccine-makers.
“That was exactly what we thought our Government was doing since last October, when the funds were being allocated for vaccines in the 2021 budget,” Seecharan said.
He said an estimated 60 per cent of global vaccine production comes from India. It is manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the “very same vaccine” Trinidad and Tobago is expected to receive from Covax.
TT received a gift from Barbados of 2,000 vaccines when the Eastern Caribbean country got 100,000 from India.
He said of the approximately 12 billion doses, the pharmaceutical industry is expected to produce in 2021, about nine billion have already been reserved by “rich countries.”
In a CNN opinion editorial that the Prime Minister co-authored about vaccine equality, he said rich nations are taking up most of the vaccine resources.
“A year into this pandemic, it is a miracle that more than 80 countries are rolling out vaccines. But most of those shots have been administered in a handful of rich countries. Meanwhile, health workers in 130 low and middle-income countries are still waiting to receive the vaccine, according to the UN,” Dr Rowley wrote.
Low and middle-income countries such as Malaysia, Peru and Bangladesh, Seecharan said stayed in the Covax initiative, but also recently “inked their own deals with the vaccine manufactures.” He said Bangladesh got two million, Myanmar and Bhutan got 1.5 million and Nepal one million vaccines.
“Those donations have been made outside the WHO/Covax facility, through bilateral agreements, as gifts or grants of the government of India.”
He said people in TT will be getting 120,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca covid19 vaccine in March 2021. That’s 60,000 people receiving a full course of treatment, as each person will require two doses. Other countries, he said, entered into contractual arrangements with manufacturers months ago.
“We in TT are now doing this after the major manufacturers have sold their current inventory and, in some cases, future inventory for 2021. (Health) Minister Deyalsingh should tell the nation how he intends to acquire two million doses of the covid19 vaccines and in what time frame.”