SVG forced to give away over 35,000 Covid19 vaccines

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(Searchlight Newspaper)The number of first doses of the remaining AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility is getting smaller every day as St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) continues to have to give away vaccines.

SVG has, from different batches, given away a total of 35,500 vaccines. Five thousand to Grenada, 5000 to St Lucia, and 25,500 to Trinidad and Tobago.

According to information from the Chief Medical Officer(CMO), Dr Simone Keizer-Beache there are about 21,600 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca remaining, from those sourced through the COVAX facility.

COVAX, is a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, and is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

From this number of 21,600, calculations have to be made concerning how many vaccines to set aside for persons to be able to receive their second dose. Additionally, every day the requirement for the second doses rises.

As at yesterday, June 28, approximately 15,000 vaccines needed to be saved for persons to get their second dose.

Subtracting this number from the total vaccines left, and then cutting this in half, leaves one with the number that remains to be administered.

Further, there is an expiatory date that needs to be factored in, and from August 1, first doses should cease.

Speaking on radio yesterday, June 28, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves explained that there were about 4000 AstraZeneka vaccines which were due to expire in a short period and that he gave approval to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) on Saturday to offer them to Trinidad, because they would be able to use them quickly.

“…We have another 20,000 (vaccines) or so which are going to expire by the end of August, and then we don’t have any more vaccines to come this year out of COVAX,” he also said, reiterating his appeal for persons to take the vaccine.

However, the Prime Minister also mentioned, and the CMO confirmed, that they are finalising contracts to place an order for the Sputnik V vaccine.

“But I am urging persons to take the vaccine which is available. The AstraZeneca is a perfectly good vaccine. I know people may have a preference for the Sputnik, or they have a preference for the Cuban vaccine…” Gonsalves noted, as he answered a caller who had been inquiring about a vaccine from Cuba, “…but this is a long haul.”

“Covid is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, maybe for the rest of our lives, and therefore we have to get into the habit of taking the vaccine and then taking boosters. For us to get back to normalcy,” he said.

Those who may be reading up on the situation would have realised, “…you are likely to have a pathogen, maybe more dangerous, well more than likely more dangerous than Covid-19. So I am just alerting everybody, as is my job, to what are the risks which are ahead and the importance of us to take the Covid vaccine.”

The Prime Minister also cautioned, “…I say to persons, you may well wait and wait and then don’t have any vaccine available for you to take. Because there is a shortage in the world.”

He also commented that all the Governments in the world and all the major scientists are advising the same thing, which is to take the vaccine.

“I don’t understand why individuals are not taking it, because we’re not going to get back to normal…and the longer this problem of vaccine hesitance continues, the more difficult the economic situation will be.”

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