UWI professor Michele Monteil on Saturday appealed to citizens to "step up to the plate" and get their covid19 vaccines.
In making this appeal during the Ministry of Health’s covid19 briefing, Monteil suggested this could have an impact on the ability of children to return to some kind of face-to-face interaction in school, as opposed to virtual schooling at home.
Responding to a question that the Brazilian covid19 variant targets young people, Monteil said, "If Trinidadians would step up to the plate and get vaccinated so that it stops the spread of the Brazilian variant, we would be able to open our schools."
She said the AstraZeneca vaccines acquired by the Government through the Covax facility and the Government of India are effective against the Brazilian variant.
"We want our children to have a normal education."
Monteil said even after people get vaccinated, they must still continue to obey all covid19 protocols.
She said TT is not yet in the position of countries like Israel where 70 per cent of its population have received two doses of a covid19 vaccine. After indicating the Pfizer vaccine was the one being used in Israel, Monteil said while certain parts of that population are still rigorously protected against the virus and its variants, there are places were people are able to move about freely and unmasked.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said, "We want to keep all the variants out as long as we can, to give our country the time to vaccinate our people, protect everyone and then we go step by step from there." He agreed with Monteil that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective to protect people from the Brazilian variant.
But Parasram said that vaccine is not effective against the South African variant. He added that South Africa abandoned the use of AstraZeneca after it was shown to be unable to combat that variant. With covid variants existing in other countries outside of TT, Parasram reiterated the importance of the existing border controls to keep the population safe from the virus and its variants.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he could not comment on reports that a school in north Trinidad reported cases of people infected with covid19. While that is a matter for the Education Ministry, Deyalsingh said his ministry is ready to assist in whatever way it could.