By Staff Writer
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): News of a pending vaccine for the dreaded coronavirus, which has claimed close to 1.5 million lives with more than 60 million confirmed cases globally, has sparked some excitement at home and abroad.
Premier Mark Brantley responded to the vaccine question at his Thursday press conference in Charlestown by urging everyone to be vigilant even as they wait for the vaccine’s arrival.
“The lead is being taken at the Federal level. It is the Federal government that has engaged in terms of making a deposit to secure vaccines. As I understand it is almost as if there is a queue and you make your deposit in order for you be in that queue terms so when the vaccine does become available you will have access to it, ” Brantley said.
The New York Times reports Friday (November 27) that 6.4 million doses of Pfizer COVID-019 vaccines are to shipped across the USA by mid-December. The vaccine is awaiting emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Mr. Brantley was asked about the safety of early COVID-19 vaccines
” All the technical advice that I have seen thus far says that the vaccine, once it gets to market, it will be safe…” Brantley said while assuring the public that a vaccine would not be distributed until it got the approval from national and international entities including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
” We will not administer a vaccine simply because Pfizer or some other r company says that their vaccine is good … so I do not think our public should have any concern, we are and have been a responsible government. ”
St. Kitts and Nevis made a down payment pegged at EC$800,000 to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, according to official statements.
Last month, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that “through funding from the European Union, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in partnership with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), secured down payments to purchase over 1M doses of the expected COVID-19 vaccine(s) for Caribbean Member States.
Speaking at a media briefing in October, Executive Director Dr. Joy St John noted namely Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos signed up for access.
A press release on PAHO’s website states the following:
“CARPHA is assisting 11 of these Member States, with all or a portion of the required down payment. The down payment is approximately 15% of the value of vaccines that countries intend to procure in the future, ranging between 15% to 33% of their populations.
We have been able to support Antigua, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands, with 100% of the down payment required by the COVAX Facility. We have been able to support Suriname with 18% of the down payment required by the COVAX Facility. These will cover just about 20% of the population in total,” Dr. St John outlined.
Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, Assistant Director at PAHO, noted that global equitable access to a vaccine through the COVAX facility will allow the countries, in the first phase, to receive a number of doses that is equivalent to 20% of their population. This volume will allow them to protect health care workers, frontline workers, and that most-at-risk, such as people with 65 years and more and adults with underlying conditions.”