A day after the Ansa McAl group announced plans to offer covid19 vaccines to its staff members and their immediate families once they become available, an Opposition MP called on the Health Minister to clarify private firms' roles in the distribution process.
"Is this a system that will create a have and have not? Is this a system that will create vaccines for the rich and no vaccines for the poor?" Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said on Saturday.
"Are they (employers) buying it? Are they getting it through the Government?"
He was speaking to the media at Transfer Village in Debe after he and councillor Nicholas Kanhai presented a wheelchair to Haspathi Singh, 52, a kidney patient, in Debe.
On Friday, Ansa McAl announced its intention to offer vaccines to all 6,000 staff members and their families across the operations in TT and the region.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh at Saturday’s virtual media conference said government received offers to partner with private companies without naming any company. Government, he said, welcomed any initiatives by the private sector to vaccinate their employees free of charge.
Once the vaccine is registered through this country’s local agents, any private entity can purchase the vaccines for their employees.
No private entity or the government can make it mandatory for people to take the vaccine, he said.
Moonilal accused the Government of doing nothing to reach out to India's government to source vaccines free of charge.
The Indian High Commission, he said, confirmed that government has not properly applied for that.
"What they (government officials) have done, we suspect, is reach out to companies in the world, but not the government of India. That is a very serious matter," Moonilal said.
On the Covax distribution system, Moonilal said it has a "strange formula".
To get the vaccines ordered, the providers look at the country’s record, he said.
If the covid19 cases are low, the country with more cases gets more.
"In a layman's way, you could be punished for doing well because the vaccines will go to other countries that have a higher rate of infection," Moonilal said.
"At this stage, the Covax system will not give us, not even 20 per cent of what we require. The government is making no effort to get vaccines elsewhere."
On Saturday, Deyalsingh also announced TT will receive 100,800 vaccines from the Covax facility at a cost of US$504,000 (TT$3.4 million) by the end of March. The Caribbean Public Health Agency will contribute US$160,838 (TT$1.09 million) from a grant available under the European Union.