Remarks made by the Prime Minister during a media conference last Saturday led to a heated exchange between officials from the Guyanese government and business community and Trinidad and Tobago's Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs on Friday.
During his presentation Dr Rowley referred to a table highlighting the number of vaccines received by all 14 Caricom countries and their associates as of Saturday.
He noted the only Caricom country to receive more vaccine doses than TT was Guyana and that was because they accepted vaccines that were not yet approved by the World Health Organization.
"I have raised that at this platform before, but I'll raise it again.
"The Guyana government took a decision that TT did not take, and that is early in the proceedings, to use vaccines that were not approved by the World Health Organization.
"As a result of that, Guyana had a larger volume of vaccines available. We did not participate in that and that explains it."
Up to that time TT received 234,700 vaccines while Guyana received 287,400 vaccines.
In a media release on Friday, Dr Leslie Ramsammy – Guyana's advisor to the Minister of Health blasted Dr Rowley for pointing out that Guyana was one of the countries in the region which started using vaccines which were not yet approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
He was referring, in particular, to the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
Ramsammy described Rowley's remarks as "out of line and reckless" and accused him of trying to deflect attention from the shortfalls of TT's vaccination program, while reiterating the safety of vaccines used by Guyana's government.
"He insulted Guyana and the 74 countries that presently are using vaccines like Sputnik V.
"In defending the vaccine fiasco in his country, Prime Minister Rowley, unwittingly or deliberately, implied that Guyana's successful vaccination program so far is an illusion because Guyana utilised vaccines not approved for use.
"He boasted that TT has the most vaccine doses already in country than any other country in Caricom, except Guyana, but that Guyana's vaccines do not count since they are not approved.
"I will not comment on how Prime Minister Rowley has managed his country's vaccine program; how he has managed the island's vaccine program is a matter his people have already pronounced on.
“The criticism from his own people must be stinging enough for Prime Minister Rowley to attempt changing the narrative."
Ramsammy also noted that UNICEF recently signed a contract with Russia to acquire 220 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine was testament of the vaccine's safety and effectiveness.
Another media release issued by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) was also critical of Rowley's remarks describing it as reprehensible and accused him of trying to gain political mileage.
"This comes as no surprise as Dr Rowley fulfils his historical trait of demonstrating scant regard for the lives of Guyanese.
"We find these efforts by the Leader of the Opposition of Guyana and the Chairman of Caricom to be utterly reprehensible, callous and irresponsible and condemn these efforts to score cheap political points."
In response to these statements, TT’s Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne fired back at Ramsammy and the GCCI describing their respective remarks as "misleading, disrespectful and potentially damaging."
The release denied Rowley made any disparaging remarks about Guyana and noted that Ramsammy's commentary did not contain the quotes supposedly made by the Prime Minister to support his statement.
He further asserted that contrary to the GCCI's comments, TT has always been committed to ensuring the safety of Guyana's people.
"Ironically that slanderous statement was issued by the Georgetown Chamber mere days after Prime Minister Rowley instructed the relevant arms of his government to organise much needed relief supplies and assistance for Guyana, in response to the Government of Guyana`s request through Caricom for help with their response to heavy floods.
"The Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs strongly condemns the published falsehoods against Prime Minister Rowley by Dr Ramsammy and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and calls upon the authorities in Guyana to disassociate themselves from such unwarranted, scurrilous and disrespectful attacks on the sitting chairman of Caricom, which incidentally is headquartered in Georgetown, Co-operative Republic of Guyana."