CMO Dr Roshan Parasram said the drug advisory committee will shortly be reviewing the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines to approve them for use in TT.
The Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines were approved by the Health Minister under legal notice 174 of 2021.
Speaking at the Health Ministry’s media conference on Wednesday, Parasram said the committee is trying to keep abreast of WHO standards.
“We are considering the vaccines even before they are scheduled to come into the country, so what we’re doing is pre-emptively approving all the WHO vaccines. We’re looking at the dossier and making sure everything is OK with it in case the negotiations go forward quickly, we have already crossed that hurdle in terms of approval.
"So with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm, we have already gone ahead and approved, and we’re moving towards Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in the near future.”
He said based on a review of data, consideration will be given as to whether the vaccines can be used for pregnant and lactating mothers.
In giving the epidemiological update, Parasram said St George Central (19.5 per cent), Caroni (14.9 per cent), St. George West (14.3 per cent), Victoria (14.3 per cent), St Patrick (13.3 per cent), and St George East (13.2 per cent) had the highest percentage of cases in the community, which did not include hospitalised people.
He said among people in home isolation, 47.7 per cent were symptomatic and 45.1 per cent were asymptomatic, with 4.0 per cent recovering and 3.2 per cent transferred to a facility.
He said the main comorbidities were hypertension (29 per cent), diabetes (19,7 per cent), asthma (16.1 per cent), immune deficiency (15.7 per cent), pulmonary issues (13.5 per cent, heart disease (2.7 per cent), pregnancy (2.5 per cent), and other (0.6 per cent).
“A shift in the comorbidities has been noted. If you look at comorbidities a couple months ago, diabetes and hypertension were the greater proportion of cases. We now see a dip in the number of people with diabetes becoming positive, and we have to look toward the immunisation strategy in TT, where a lot of patients with diabetes have been getting their vaccines, and we have to keep a close eye on those statistics to see if it continues to drop. It’s a good sign, because once you have diabetes along with covid19, you tend to have complications.
"The number of asthmatic patients seems to be going up and we will have to keep an eye on that and get those people to have their vaccines as we go forward.”
Parasram said while the daily reported numbers are getting smaller, people still need to be cautious.
“We have a broken week in terms of holidays, and some of the labs would be closed. For example, CARPHA would be down on holidays and Sundays, so some figures would be askew this week.
"I think we wait until next week, don’t let the figures be a real guide. What we’re using is the epidemiological curve, which looks at swab dates, which gives a better indication, and we have begun to see a slowing and hopefully the first large grouping of measures.
He said normally measures for curbing the spread of the virus take 14-21 days to take effect.
"And we’re two weeks into the SoE, so we’re expecting to see the effect of those events happening, in terms of numbers coming down, and we hope the lower numbers of the last few days is an indication we’re beginning to see a slowing.
"But we have to be cautious because an outbreak could happen quickly.”
The CMO said there are measures covid19-positive people who are affected by Sahara dust can take to mitigate the effects.
“When you have a viral illness, environmental conditions will affect you, and you will tend to have an exacerbation of viral symptoms in most instances. Of course staying indoors, which we expect covid19 patients would do, would go a long way, and we expect you would wear your mask as well. So if you continue to do those two things, the effect would be minimised: stay indoors and wear your mask.”
Immunology professor at UWI Dr Michele Monteil gave some background to the Sinopharm vaccine.
“Vaccine efficacy is determined through large Phase III clinical trials, where large numbers of participants are either given the vaccine or a placebo, assigned randomly. The two groups are monitored over a specified time to see how many cases of covid19 infection develop in these groups. There were almost 13,000 participants in the groups.
"The study was conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). During the observation period, which started 15 days after the second dose, the vaccinated group had 21 cases, while the control group had 95 cases. This gives a vaccine efficacy of 78.1 per cent. This means people who are fully immunised with the Sinopharm vaccine, ie, have had both doses and waited 14 days, their chances of getting symptomatic infection, is reduced by 78.1 per cent.”
She said because the Sinopharm vaccine is an inactivated virus vaccine, booster shots may be necessary, as was being done in the UAE.