Kamla persuades House to debate covid19 vaccination

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar

SPEAKER Bridgid Annisette-George agreed on Wednesday to Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar's request to have the House of Representatives urgently debate public concern over Government's implementation of a mass covid vaccination programme.

In making her case to Annisette-George, Persad-Bissessar said, "The matter is definite as it relates to persons who are willing to be vaccinated and large crowds gathered outside of the health centres, as a result of the walk-in system, to access the vaccines."

She said this resulted in "mass congregations at vaccination locations nationwide today and that is currently ongoing."

Persad-Bissessar added, "Government's decision to administer the covid19 vaccine in this manner has resulted in potential superspreader events which will result in a massive spike in covid19 infections that could lead to a loss of life."

In response, Annisette-George said she was satisfied that the matter qualified to be raised as a definite matter of urgent public importance.

After she received consensus from the government and opposition MPs present in the Parliament Chamber, Annisette-George ruled that the debate would begin at 6 pm.

Earlier in the sitting, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said a question posed to him by Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee suggesting Government had ordered 1.5 million Sinopharm vaccines from China was inaccurate.

"What was said is that we have the capacity to pay for 1.5 million (doses)." he said.

On negotiations between Government and Sinopharm for a commercial agreement to bring more of its covid19 vaccines to Trinidad and Tobago, Deyalsingh recalled those efforts began last September.

"We signed a non-disclosure agreement with Sinopharm on March 15. That prevents us from discussing any matters on the issue of Sinopharm vaccines, whether it is their patent rights, their pricing and their quantities."

But Deyalsingh added, "We are now in the 11th hour and 56th minute of consecrating this bilateral service."

He reiterated that nothing must be said in public to jeopardise this agreement being reached.

"As soon as we have a sign-off from Sinopharm to discuss matters, we will do so as it relates to shipping, arrival dates and so on, as we have always done when vaccines are brought into the country."

Deyalsingh said on April 29, Pfizer said it would be sending a heads of terms of agreement, and this will be a precursor towards the establishment of a commercial sales agreement, detailing quantity and price of doses of its vaccine for TT.

He saidd the same process is happening with respect to Sinopharm, and a non-disclosure agreement had been signed with the manufacturer in Beijing in March.

The first shipment of a gift of 100,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine arrived from China last month.

At a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's on May 29, the Prime Minister said an additional shipment of Sinopharm doses would be arriving soon.


"Kamla persuades House to debate covid19 vaccination"

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