HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on Wednesday accused the Opposition of falsely blaming the deaths of 56 vaccinated individuals on their not having got a booster vaccine.
He was in the House of Representatives replying to an urgent question from Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe, who said 56 people were fully vaccinated out of the 1,437 people who had died from covid19, and asked when the Government would expand the category of individuals eligible to get a third primary dose, regardless of brand.
Deyalsingh said, "It continues to amaze how the UNC tries at every turn to sabotage the country's vaccination plan.
"What this question is saying, based on a false premise, is that those persons with diabetes who died died because they did not get a third shot. That is absolutely false and untrue."
He said the choice about a third shot was based on studies for each vaccine brand.
"In my case, I am over 60 and diabetic, but I got AstraZeneca. I am not entitled to a third dose." He explained why, based on WHO information: "Because the WHO data says (if you had) the Sinopharm vaccine, over 60, regardless of health status, get your third shot. Under 60, if you are moderately to severely immunocompromised."
He said his ministry has followed these WHO guidelines from day one.
"Diabetes, as my friend knows, does not necessarily mean you are immunocompromised. We had a doctor come to our press conferences to try to explain this to the population.
"But what my friend is trying to insinuate is that these unfortunate persons who died did so because they did not get a third shot. That is absolutely false, and that type of insinuation should be condemned."
He said the Government's position on a third shot depended on WHO protocols, which were based on whether a person was "moderately to severely immunocompromised and over 60 with Sinopharm."
Further replying to Bodoe, Deyalsingh said, "Anyone over 60 who receives Sinopharm, regardless of disease state, can get their extra dose. People under 60 who received Sinopharm have to be moderately to severely immunocompromised (and it is the) same thing for AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer."
"What are the disease states we look at? HIV/AIDS, especially those with a CD4 count under 200; dialysis patients; NCDs; if you have active cancers; and anybody else in a moderately to severely immunocompromised state, for example if you are on an immunosuppressant drug, for example a kidney transplant patient."
CD4 cells or T-cells are white blood cells which fight infection, but which are attacked by the HIV virus. A CD4 count is used to check the state of the immune system among individuals infected with HIV.