As told by the Minister of Health some months ago, Trinidad and Tobago signed off on receiving 100,800 vaccines from the COVAX Facility.
However, at today’s media briefing on Covid19, Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced that instead of 100,800 doses, this country will only be receiving 33,600 doses in its first tranche of AstraZeneca vaccines, which is due by the end of March.
Deyalsingh said: “We actually got the quotation last week Friday and what PAHO has indicated is that they are going to split the shipment into maybe two parts. They gave us a quotation for thirty-three thousand, six hundred doses at a cost of one hundred and forty-eight thousand, eighty-four dollars and six cents US (US$148,084.06).”
He said the money for the payment was sent to the Central Bank by the Ministry of Health and that between today and tomorrow, the funds will be deposited into the PAHO Revolving Fund, which is the last step on their end.
“It means now we wait for delivery of the first tranche of our hundred thousand, which we are guaranteed at this stage of thirty-three thousand, six hundred to begin our vaccination programme. And then the rest of the vaccines will follow as originally stated between March and May.”
Deyalsingh added “We weighted the pro and cons of accepting thirty-three thousand, six hundred or waiting for the entire shipment. We felt at this stage with things being so uncertain in the global scene, with supply not being able to keep up with demand, that it is better to take this first tranche of thirty-three thousand, six hundred and begin our vaccination programme.
He said “We are also in talks, and those talks are going on right now at the ministry with the Chief Medical Officer and the principal pharmacist with Sinopharm. The dossier with their phase three trials is currently before WHO (World Health Organisation), so that is good news again, it means there is the potential for a fourth WHO vaccine to become available.
“So we have our foot in the door for that potential source of vaccine,” Deyalsingh said.
He noted that in addition to being in discussion with the Chinese Embassy and Sinopharm since last year, the Government has also held bi-lateral talks with the Serum Institute of India as well as Bharat Biotech, also of India.
He said despite these discussions, the Government is committed to only importing vaccines into Trinidad and Tobago that are WHO certified.