The Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) has said it was time the government implored the assistance of the private sector to ensure herd inoculation against the covid19 virus.
In a media statement on Tuesday, its president Rajiv Diptee said not enough was being done to protect citizens and restart the economy, which was on the brink of collapse.
He said, “The prerogative of the state is to address the basic needs of its citizenry; if the state has by its own means not accessed a satisfactory number of vaccines to satisfy the requirements necessary for mass vaccination, the private sector including the SATT knows what needs to be done. We cannot see these persons in our communities continue like this any more.”
Diptee said if the country’s borders were to remain closed for the rest of the year, some revitalisation of the economy from within was crucial, as people were struggling to make ends meet.
“These people are the families that make up communities. They are people who are struggling to find the means to pluck a dollar from their pocket to put food on the table.
“It is well documented that covid19 has ravaged global supply chains with the average cost of manufacturing and price of foodstuff increase because of the pandemic.
"What has not been measured as acutely is the effect on these communities because we have become so obsessed with flattening the curve on the covid19 dashboard.”
SATT last month in a public statement said it was seeking talks with the Ministry of Health on privately buying vaccines through the ministry for its workers.
There has been mixed information in the public domain about private purchases and conglomerates assisting government with buying covid19 vaccines, but on March 23, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said in the Senate that Ansa McAl Group CEO Anthony Sabga III, Diptee and himself had decided to be “forward-looking” in vaccine procurement.
Diptee commented, “In the race to acquire vaccines, the Minister of Health has acknowledged the need to be forward-looking. In this race of heavyweights in which SATT is but a betting punt, we represent the grassroots who are banking on us to deliver.
“If the appetite did not exist to purchase vaccines in the first place to ensure system correction, we would not have had the conversation in the first instance."
Government began the current phase on Tuesday of Trinidad and Tobago's covid19 vaccination programme with 33,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines acquired through Covax.