T&T to get smaller COVID-19 vaccine batch due to shortage

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on Monday disclosed that Trinidad and Tobago will get only a third of the doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines expected from the COVAX Facility this month.

He said a global vaccine shortage was to blame for the twin-island republic now expected to get just 33,600 of the full shipment of 100,800 doses. But the health minister said the remainder should be here sometime between April and early May.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) had announced the allocation of vaccines last month, and Deyalsingh had said the first tranche of 100,800 doses, costing US$504,000, was expected to arrive here at the end of March.

However, at a virtual press conference on Monday, he said: “There is an absolute shortage of vaccines around the world. Supply has not yet caught up with demand… What PAHO has indicated, [is that] they are going to split the shipment into maybe two parts, so they gave us a quotation and these vaccines, all things being equal again, will arrive by the end of March.

“We decided to go this route and not to wait for the entire shipment because you never can tell what can happen. An entire shipment might be delayed.”

The health minister said payment for the first tranche of the vaccines — US$148,084.06 — was made last Friday and should be deposited into the PAHO revolving fund this week.

The number of people who will get the vaccine from the pending first tranche will be dependent on the delivery of the remaining doses.

Deyalsingh explained that either only 16,800 people will be vaccinated within the next few weeks, and the other half of the doses reserved to give those individuals their second jab as is required; or, if PAHO can confirm delivery of the remaining 67,200 doses, 33,600 people will get immunised.

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