HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh rejected what he described as continued mischief being spread by the Opposition UNC about monkeypox and Trinidad and Tobago's ability to deal with it
At a news conference on August 7, Caroni East MP Dr Rishad Seecheran said the Health Ministry should ask developed countries for donations of the monkeypox vaccine and not depend on the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to acquire the vaccine.
Addressing the virtual covid19 news conference on Wednesday, Deyalsingh said those comments provided further evidence that the only people who continued to make the same mistake on all issues were the UNC, because they did not have the facts of the matters they spoke about.
Nine DNA samples sent overseas by the ministry to test for monkeypox have returned negative, indicating the virus is not present in TT at this time.
Deyalsingh said it was necessary for him to update the public on TT's efforts to acquire the monkeypox vaccine to "dispel the misinformation and disinformation being put out by the UNC and their spokespersons."
He advised the population to disregard all comments coming from the UNC because it had no credible information to support any of its statements.
"As we have the information, we will bring it to you."
The ministry was part of meetings with PAHO on July 15 and August 5 on acquiring the monkeypox vaccine. The latter meeting involved Deyalsingh and all his Caricom counterparts.
Deyalsingh said a resolution was passed at the August 5 by all Caricom health ministers, allowing PAHO to engage in negotiations with the manufacturer of the vaccine and acquire it for Caricom.
"As I indicated earlier, TT was one of the first countries (in Caricom) to indicate interest to acquire (monkeypox) vaccines."
Bavarian Nordic is the only monkeypox vaccine manufacturer in the world.
Referring to information from PAHO director Dr Clarissa Etienne, Deyalsingh said, "While supplies of the vaccine are extremely limited, PAHO has engaged in early negotiations with the sole manufacturer."
This, he continued, shattered the myth being perpetuated by the UNC that the vaccine is "available in a drugstore and you can buy it on a shelf."
Deyalsingh added that against the background of limited vaccine supplies, larger countries could be trying to hoard those supplies.
"But the manufacturer has indicated there is an understanding that it will deal with PAHO and maybe not individual countries."
Through PAHO, Deyalsingh reiterated, TT is in the market for the vaccine. On August 3, he said the ministry placed an order with PAHO for 2,000 doses of the vaccine.
There remains no confirmation on the price for the vaccine or its arrival date in TT.
But Deyalsingh said the ministry now has information on the vaccine's shelf life. Bavarian Nordic had told PAHO, he said, the exact date of the vaccine's expiration will be given once a contract to acquire the vaccines has been signed.
Deyalsingh said the information from Bavarian Nordic indicates that if the vaccine is stored at temperatures of -50 degrees celsius or -20 degrees celsius, it will last five and three years respectively.
He reminded the public that the ministry had already established cold-storage facilities which have successfully stored covid19 vaccines over the last two years.
'We have the capacity in country to store it at both -20 (degrees celsius) and for a shelf life of three years and -50 (degrees celsius) for a shelf life of five years."
Deyalsingh said people who have no interest in helping TT should "desist from misleading the population."
He also told the UNC that if it really wanted to be helpful to the population, there is one thing it could do.
"If you want to raise your voice, join me as Minister of Health, as I have been doing for the past month, urging the larger countries to share vaccines."
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said as of August 4, there were 26,000 globally confirmed cases of monkeypox in 85 countries, 9,000 of them in the Americas.