NARISSA FRASER AND YVONNE WEBB
PRESIDENT of the Fyzabad Chamber of Industry and Commerce Clint Arjoon has reported information he has about Pfizer covid19 vaccines entering this country illegally to the Health Ministry. He says an investigation is under way.
However, the police commissioner dismissed the claim made by the businessman as being "without merit," and based on hearsay information after an investigation was done.
On Wednesday morning, during TV6’s Morning Edition talk show with host Fazeer Mohammed, Arjoon said he “knew for a fact” that “a certain medical facility” illegally imported Pfizer vaccines for its staff.
Asked about this during the Health Ministry’s virtual press conference on Wednesday morning, chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram said to date, the Pfizer vaccine “has not been imported through legal government channels.”
The only vaccines the government has received for public distribution are the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines.
He asked those with information surrounding the illegal importation to report to him.
Initially, when contacted by Newsday on Wednesday, Arjoon said he would not report the information he had.
But on Thursday, he told Newsday he made the report as his intention behind revealing the information during the talk show was never to create mischief.
Now, he said, he cannot say much as he does not wish to compromise the investigation.
He said he has known about the importation for approximately one month.
On Thursday, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said he was yet to receive any information on the Pfizer vaccines being brought privately into the country.
“Nothing has been passed to me yet in terms of advice.
“I want to be extremely careful that all facts as reported are carefully investigated because in today’s world of fake news or angles we have to be very careful not to run away with conclusions that are premature.
“Suffice it to say, I have not received any communication on the issue yet. Obviously, if I am called to advice on the issue I will.”
He cautioned, “There are many slip between cup and lip and in today’s world where fake news can find a perceived reality very quickly, you need to be extremely careful that we look at the facts and verify information before advice on conjecture becomes the norm.”
Also on Thursday, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said if what Arjoon said was true, " then it meant that a very serious crime had taken place."
Since the police can start an investigation without an official report, he said the person making the claim was contacted by deputy Commissioner of Police (Investigations and Intelligence) Mc Donald Jacob, and "who was unable to provide any shred of evidence, data, documentation, or witness, to verify that his statement had any merit."
He also claimed that he passed on information to the director of Foods and Drug Division.
"When the director was contacted again, he confirmed that it was solely hearsay statements, with the initial businessman, stating 'that he heard so'.
A senior administrator in the said medical facility where the businessman claimed that the drug was received and being distributed, also had absolutely no knowledge of the matter.
"In summary, the statement made by the individual that made headline news, lacks merit, and is deemed to be false as there is absolutely nothing to substantiate his claim, which has been deemed baseless."
He urged citizens to exercise a degree of responsibility when public comments are made, and not do it based on "rumor, third party comments, he say she say gossip, hearsay all amounting to rum shop talk," as it was a waste of police time and can cause undue fear.
"So a degree of reasonability and not being reckless is strongly advised."