Deyalsingh: One-third of population can get Covax vaccines

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh . Photo by Marvin Hamilton
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh . Photo by Marvin Hamilton

ONE third of the population can expect to be vaccinated by way of the Covax facility, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh told Newsday on Thursday.

This is apart from vaccines obtained by bilateral agreements with other countries and pharmaceutical companies.

Newsday was seeking clarification on figures he offered on Monday to the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives.

In a text message Deyalsingh said $34 million has been allocated to buy vaccines from Covax for 33 per cent of the population.

He said this sum covers vaccines already ordered, plus future purchases if they are required and available.

On Monday he told the committee about payments made so far to Covax for three tranches of vaccines, of which two had arrived, while a third was due this month.

Deyalsingh had said the Government made an initial down payment to Covax of US$1.47 million. After this, three successive tranches of 33,600 doses each (totalling 100,800 doses) were ordered for US$148,000, US$152,000 and US$150,000 respectively. He said the initial deposit and the three tranches added up to US$1.927 million (about $14 million.)

On Thursday, Deyalsingh told Newsday the US$1.47 million down payment was given to Covax to fund research and development of vaccines.

On Wednesday Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in presenting the Mid Year Review in the House of Representatives gave further information, constrained by non-disclosure agreements. He said $107 million had been allocated to vaccinate 1.2 million people, or 85 per cent of the population.

"I can say at this time that so far the Ministry of Finance has made arrangements or already spent US$10.3 million, or $70.2 million, on the procurement of vaccines.

"The balance to be paid with the current arrangements for the procurement of vaccines is US$5.4 million (about $37.8 million.)

"If you add that all up, we expect at the end of the day we would spend approximately US$15.7 million on the acquisition of vaccines, or approximately $107 million.

"I wish to say we have already paid for a significant quantity of vaccines and we've also made the necessary down payments for the vaccines to come, especially the vaccines coming from the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust."

He estimated vaccinating 85 per cent of the population would achieve herd immunity against covid19.

Parliament on Thursday released the latest report of the Standing Finance Committee, including the Mid Year Review adjustments to the 2021 budget.

Under the Ministry of Health head, the report gave the figure of $34 million for acquiring covid19 vaccines through Covax.

A separate sum of $22 million was to facilitate payment to PAHO for pharmaceutical supplies such as influenza vaccines, ABBOT rapid testing for covid19 and anti-retroviral drugs for AIDS patients.

The report also said the cost of operating six mass vaccination sites for six months for the rollout of phase III of the covid19 vaccination programme was $5.629 million. This included hiring medical and clerical staff, plus buying laptops.

Trinidad and Tobago received a donation of 100,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a gift from China on May 19, with Deyalsingh saying at the time TT wanted to buy more doses from China.

The Prime Minister on Saturday at a briefing said the Government had recently made a payment for "a significant shipment" of Sinopharm vaccine due to arrive in TT this Thursday.

Dr Rowley also said other vaccines will come to Caricom via the Africa Medical Supply Platform, of which TT was due to get 800,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine, the first batch being expected in August.

He also expected the third shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from Covax soon.

“Within 12 weeks, depending on the shipping arrangements, we would be able to vaccinate a substantial (number) of people. Our first target is half a million people," Rowley said.

TT has already received donations of AstraZeneca vaccine from India (40,000 doses), St Vincent and the Grenadines (16,000), Bermuda (8,000), and Grenada (10,000).

TT also expects to receive a share of the initial six million doses pledged as donations by US President Joe Biden to the Latin America and Caribbean region, after talks between Rowley and US Vice President Kamala Harris.


"Deyalsingh: One-third of population can get Covax vaccines"

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