Duke ignores covid19 vaccine advice from PDP deputy

FILE PHOTO: Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) leader Watson Duke.
FILE PHOTO: Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) leader Watson Duke. -

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke, seemingly ignoring the advice of his deputy leader Dr Faith BYisrael, has expressed concerns over the covid19 vaccine.

Duke said he has not been vaccinated, and will not do so until one has been “legitimised, approved or licensed.

“Then I will line up and take the vaccine,” Duke said in an interview with a US radio station on Sunday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines.

The interview was carried live on his Facebook page.

Although he did not mention the brands, Duke noted the vaccines currently being offered to citizens – Sinopharm and AstraZeneca – have only been given emergency-use authorisation.

“A vaccine authorised for emergency use is simply a vaccine that must be used in emergency circumstances.”

He added: “Up until the time that it has been licensed, it is undergoing clinical trials.”

Although expressing "anti-vaxx" sentiment, Duke declared he is not against vaccination.

“Let me make that absolutely clear. I have taken several vaccines in my life. But I am not one that will just run with the crowd. I am very interested with what goes into my body.”

Duke said once a vaccine is legitimised, approved and licensed, “I know it would be good on all these counts.

“The quality of the manufacturing would be good, the safety of the vaccine would be good, the efficacy would be good, the (ratio of) benefits to the risk would be great.”

Duke said he can’t take a vaccine which, he believes, "is killing people.

“I don't know how you feel about life. Every life, to me, is important.”

Duke’s position on vaccinations came a day after UWI professor of molecular genetics and virology Christine Carrington, explained that a vaccine has to demonstrate itself to be safe and effective during clinical trials to be approved for emergency use.

She added for full approval, clinical trials have to show that the vaccine is safe and works.

Carrington, who spoke at the Health Ministry's covid19 health briefing on Saturday, said any negative effects on individuals would  likely have happened in the first two to three months after vaccination and would have been picked up in the trials.

She said even though several vaccines were only given emergency use approval by the WHO, they are still safe to use.

Duke also responded to a question about BYisrael’s view that the Tobago Regional Health Authority is being poorly managed.

He praised BYisrael, saying she does a “fantastic job” of dealing with health matters in the island.

BYisrael, who is fully vaccinated, has encouraged Tobagonians to read and get the required information to allay their fears about the vaccine.

During a PDP virtual programme in May, she said people should not be afraid because of how fast a covid19 vaccine was made.

“The way we did things ten years ago versus 50 years ago, versus 100 years ago – we have benefited because of the advancements in technology. We have (advanced) in every single field, and the same thing has happened for vaccines,” she said.

Contacted for a comment on Monday on Duke’s position on vaccinations, BYisrael said she did not see the interview.

But BYisrael said the PDP’s position has always been to provide people with information about covid19 and vaccines. She said this would allow each person the option to choose what is best for them.

“Mr Duke is no different,” she said.

During the interview, Duke also claimed only 1,500-2,000 people had been vaccinated in Tobago.

"That was the last time I looked at the figure, about a week ago," he said.

A week before the interview was posted, Tobago's vaccination figures, provided by the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development, showed 10,940 people had received at least one dose of a covid19 vaccine and 8,812 people had received their two doses.

Duke also claimed Tobago’s health sector is failing because of Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine’s leadership.

The THA Roxborough/Delaford representative said Tobago’s covid19 cases are among the highest in the Caribbean, if not the world.

He claimed the island has an average of 2.4 per cent covid19 cases, while Trinidad has 0.42 per cent.

He said in Jamaica, with a population of about three million people,  about 0.13 per cent of the population infected.

“Those are my findings. Check out the findings and see how bad Tobago is being run…I am not sure if Tracy (Davidson-Celestine) knows what she is doing, because leadership is what will determine how the organisation thrives. It is all about leadership.”


"Duke ignores covid19 vaccine advice from PDP deputy"

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