Caroni East MP DR Rishad Seecheran is calling on government to provide booster shots for all adults over 18 and for stricter Safe Zones.
In a release on Saturday, he wrote:
On 25th November 2021, Trinidad and Tobago was ranked as the country with the highest daily confirmed Covid-19 deaths per million people. This was according to “Our World in Data”, using data from John Hopkins University CSSE Covid-19 data.
Seecheran said “This was a tragic confirmation of the continued failure of the Minister of Health and his stewardship our country’s public health response to this global pandemic. On numerous occasions Kamla Persad-Bissessar S.C. has called for his resignation and for competent leadership to take the reins.
“In addition, continued calls for a clinical audit into the management of Covid-19 patients at the nation’s High Dependency Units and Intensive Care Units have been ignored. Under this administration, we seem to be fated to repeat all previous mistakes, with every subsequent wave of the Covid-19 virus. With the loss of 31 souls last Thursday, we recorded the deadliest day for the pandemic to date. We are currently at 22.09 deaths per million people, with a seven-day rolling average of in excess of 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases.”
According to Seecheran, “This administration continues to ignore proactive measures in combating this virus. Over 40 countries have already administered booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data. Germany, Austria, Canada, and France were among the first few countries to begin administering the booster shots. The US tops the list with 36 million booster doses already administered. They have averaged 758,000 new boosters per day in the last week, with one in five fully vaccinated adults having received a booster shot.”
“As per the World Health Organization, booster doses are administered to a vaccinated population that has completed its primary vaccination process (one dose or two doses based on the vaccine administered), when the rate of immunity and clinical protection in them has dipped below the required levels over time. The aim of the booster shot is to essentially restore the vaccine’s effectiveness in the body to the necessary levels.
The WHO also states that booster doses may be needed only if “there is evidence of insufficient protection against these disease outcomes over time.” It further elaborates that the degree of waning of immunity and the need for booster shots may differ between vaccines, target populations, the virus in circulation, the variant of concern, and the intensity of exposure.
Seecheran added, “The deployment of booster shots, mostly in wealthy countries, comes as many in lower-income countries are still waiting for their first doses. Six times more boosters are being administered globally than first doses in low-income countries, the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, calling the lopsided rollouts “a scandal that must stop now.”
But with a National Vaccination Drive that has by all accounts stalled and infections on the rise, one has to consider the use of booster shots as a viable weapon in the fight against the Delta Variant. The science has shown that with increased immunity, the frequency of break-through infections greatly decrease.
This week, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said that there was limited evidence of decreased transmission by the use of Covid-19 Certificates to access restaurants, cinemas, or museums, measures that about 20 European Union countries are currently applying.
He said “Sadly, our Safe Zone protocols are weaker than those in the European Union. In Trinidad and Tobago, we are not mandated to test a vaccinated employee in a Safe Zone and an unvaccinated employee has to provide a negative test result every 14 days. In the European Union, vaccinated employees are required to be tested every week and unvaccinated employees every 48 or 72 hours, depending on the jurisdiction.”
Seecheran believes, “More stringent testing is needed in our Safe Zones. We have seen cases exponentially rise since its implementation in Trinidad and Tobago, with the Minster of Health stating no clusters having been discovered in a Safe Zone to date. The question remains, how does a non-symptomatic vaccinated person, who is Covid-19 positive know that, they are positive? Our nation’s testing capacity has to ramped up, with the promotion of In-Home WHO Approved Rapid Antigen Test Kits, as is done around the world.”
“Adults that have been vaccinated for six months are now eligible for a booster shot in many countries globally. This is a measure not only to save lives and reduce hospitalizations, but also to reduce transmission of the virus. More proactive measures should be implemented to save lives of our citizens and to reduce the strain on our already burnt-out healthcare workers,” Seecheran noted.