WHILE welcoming the arrival of 800,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines, Opposition MP Dr Rishad Seecheran has said the lives of many citizens lost to the pandemic could have been saved had the Government been more proactive in securing vaccines earlier.
He said had Government not missed several opportunities, but secured vaccines earler and accepted the offer by the private sector to buy vaccines, the country could have also been saved from a lockdown, state of emergency and curfew.
Seecheran said an allocation for vaccines was approved in October 2020 in the budget and Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh had said the ministry was in talks with Pfizer and Moderna since September about buying from them.
“So why did the minister not order vaccines when most countries around the world were ordering?” he asked during the United National Congress (UNC) Virtual Report meeting on Monday.
“As a nation we have lost almost 1,000 citizens. The bulk of these deaths could have been avoided if we had ordered vaccines in 2020.
“The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that vaccines could not be purchased in the global market, But Pfizer’s CEO, in an interview with Bloomberg, said that low and middle-income countries had opted not to order the company’s covid19 shot in 2020, when they were available for pre-purchase.”
Seecheran also recalled businessman Anthony Sabga’s offer to acquire US$8.4 million worth of 351,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines for the public.
“Had we accepted that offer, we would not have lost many of the over 700 lives and counting since the Easter weekend.
“We would not have had to lock down, be under a SoE and under a curfew. Jobs would have been preserved, businesses would be running, and the Government would not have had to dip into the coffers for financial relief.
“The tax benefits that the ANSA Group requested would have been a drop in the bucket to what the Government is losing now in terms of tax revenues.”
While the US Food and Drug Administration has authorised the Pfizer vaccine for use in children 12-17, Seecheran observed children (some who have been among the covid19 victims) in TT have been unable to be vaccinated.
“Vaccinating children in this age groups will increase the level of immunity in Trinidad and Tobago and will help to bring down the number of cases.
“We would have been able to resume school this September and allow these students to restart their lives and learning.”
Blaming joblessness and hunger as a result of the lockdown for escalating crime, Seecheran referred to the break-in at adental office on July 3, weeks after the office of Cunupia councillor Richard Sukdeo was broken into and vandalised.
He said this has intensified his desire to help those in need.
He told people seeking food assistance to call his constituency office at 678-1515.
“Those in great need, such as single mothers, large families and medically compromised persons will be allowed to access the hampers as a priority.
“I will not be deterred to bring relief to those who need it the most,” Seecheran said.