by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts-Nevis (WINN) – The 21,600 vaccines procured from the COVAX facility arrived on St. Kitts at the RLB international airport around 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 7.
Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, Minister of Health Akilah Byron Nisbett, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Delores Stapleton Harris and the Pan American Health Organisation’s St. Kitts-Nevis Representative Katrina Smith were among the dignitaries in attendance.
In brief remarks, Ms. Smith said COVAX is playing an important role in supplying equitable access to vaccines
“Vaccine supply continues to be a great challenge and a large part of this is due to delays in production as manufacturers scale up capacity. The goal of the COVAX facility is to provide vaccines for at least 20 percent of the population in each part of the participating countries globally with the aim of protecting those most at risk and to save lives. COVAX remains the best option to offer vaccines with equity.”
Health Minister Byron-Nisbett noted that the vaccines arrived in St. Kitts-Nevis on World Health Day
“The receipt of this 21,600 doses of the WHO-approved Oxford/AstraZeneca [Vaxzevria] vaccine for the COVAX facility today [Wednesday, April 7] is timely when we are celebrating our World Health Day. Further, it is a profound manifestation of the required strong multilateral cooperation towards managing the coronavirus pandemic. We firmly believe that only the vaccine can reign in the pandemic.”
Dr. Harris said the batch of vaccines moved the country closer to achieving people or herd immunity.
“We have set [ourselves] the target of just over 33,000 persons to achieve herd immunity. This means that we have 62 percent of our target group covered by the combination of doses that we have had so far. This is really significant and it means if we work hard, St. Kitts and Nevis can really become the first nation-state to achieve herd immunity,” Harris continued, “We were up to a couple of weeks back faced with the challenge that we have no vaccines. Today we are closer to ensuring that our future can be safer and better as a result of this further supply.”