The Supermarkets Association said it would not be privately sourcing any covid19 vaccine without input from the Ministry of Health.
On Saturday, president Rajiv Diptee said they would be seeking a public-private partnership with the ministry to vaccinate its workers.
He said it was their intention to work with the ministry to acquire 30,000 vaccine for its workers who they deemed as essential workers in the pandemic.
“We put out a release (on March 17) saying nothing more than the intent to vaccinate our workers and we said we will be working with the Ministry of Health. We never said we are. Again, it is an expression of intent.”
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on Friday in Parliament said the statements issued by SATT were “absolutely false” and no such arrangements had been discussed with the ministry and two medical institutions named by the association claimed to be unaware of the partnership.
He added that the association needed to show how it intended to procure the vaccines and to properly administer them.
Diptee said he does not understand why there was such a debate over the situation, when SATT understood what it needed to do in order to work with the ministry in this regard.
“Before the minister responded to us, we were in the embryonic stages of exploring relationships with local suppliers and local private health care institutions. It is unfortunate that some of those relationships were not finalised.
“We continue to want to work with the ministry of health because it is the lead authority in the land for the acquisition and purchase of the vaccines. We continue to work to meet the guidelines issued in his correspondence.”
“I believe the minister has misinterpreted our intentions. I guess he is stressed," Diptee said.
On Thursday the Prime Minister raised concerns in a televised broadcast about a conglomerate’s access to a million vaccines because of the unknown sourcing.
“I don’t know where they’re getting it from…they’ve offered to give the government 50,000 for free to the public, that leaves 950,000...but the bottom line is, the rest of it is for sale.”
In exchange, the conglomerate wanted access to US$8 and a tax write-off for 2021.
In February, Ansa McAl said it will offer covid19 vaccines to all of its 6,000 members of staff and their immediate families once they become available.
"Therefore, all of the group’s efforts under this initiative will be in tandem with these governments’ established acquisition and distribution plans for the covid19 vaccines throughout the population in each territory.”
It noted that it was willing to buy the World Health Organisation-approved vaccines on the open market through reputable pharmaceutical companies, should the opportunity present itself because it believed the private sector had a part to play in supporting the government’s measures to get the covid19 vaccination.