The math is simple, says Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal. T&T's allotment of the vaccines from the COVAX Facility it spends millions on will only immunise 20 per cent of the population. It is a far cry from the 70 per cent needed for herd immunity, said Moonilal yesterday in Debe.
Together with Barrackpore West councillor Nicholas Kanhai, Moonilal donated a wheelchair to Haspathi Singh, who suffered mobility loss through renal failure complications. Speaking to reporters after, Moonilal said that the first batch expected in T&T in March represents only three per cent of what the Government requested. Estimating that the population was 1.4 million, Moonilal said the country needs 1.4 million doses to vaccinate approximately 700,000 adults who qualify.
"This Government has done nothing to reach out to the Government of India, like other countries in the Caribbean, to source vaccines free of charge. The Indian High Commission has confirmed that the Government has not properly applied for that. What they have done, we suspect, is reach out to companies in the world, but not the Government of India. That is a very serious matter," Moonilal said.
The COVAX Facility aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines. It seeks to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world. Describing the system as strange, Moonilal said that the COVAX Facility would look at a country's COVID-19 statistic and determine how many vaccines it would allocate.
"If you have a good record, the cases of COVID-19 is low, they will tell you, look, you don't deserve it, another country with a high rate deserves it. So even when you order, you won't get what you ordered if your rate is low. In a layman's way, you could be punished for doing well because the vaccines will go to other countries that have a higher rate of infection."
He said that at this time, the COVAX Facility would not even provide 20 per cent of what T&T requires. He said the Government was making no effort to get vaccines elsewhere, an impending crisis to the Government vaccination programme.
Moonilal also called on Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh to explain the protocols companies would follow to vaccinate their employees. Saying that he took note of this Government's policy to allow companies to carry out their own programmes, Moonilal questioned whether companies would follow the same process as the Ministry of Health. He wants to know whether the companies will identify employees who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus or have comorbidities and ensure they get the vaccines first.
"There is a structure of nine levels in which, clearly, persons over 75 years, who have comorbidities are first in line. Younger people who are healthy, let us say under 50, under 40 years, they are probably last in line."