Minister of Health Renward Wells.
HEALTH Minister Renward Wells stressed yesterday that Bahamians will not be forced to take a vaccine for COVID-19 while at the same time revealing his ministry has already drafted a “fully functional, laid out vaccination plan” developed over the past two months.
“It is our intent to be able to vaccinate every Bahamian that wants the vaccine,” he told reporters outside of the House of Assembly.
“No one is being forced to take this, not even healthcare workers, no one in the country. As you rightfully know we have put down a down payment on getting at least 80,000 doses which equates to about 20 percent of our population which is the agreed standard globally for all the countries around the globe.
“Everyone through the WHO (World Health Organisation) is going to get enough to vaccinate in the first instance about 20 percent of its population. The Bahamas has put forward $250,000 on that facility, the COVAX facility through the WHO, but we as a country also reserve the right to go directly to manufacturers such as Moderna (and) Pfizer. As you know Moderna and Pfizer have put out their results, that their vaccines (are) some 95 percent effective. That is just phenomenal in medical terms.
“We do know what the immediate and short-term effect of taking those vaccines are and now I understand that Oxford has a vaccine now that is about 70 percent effective so the government of The Bahamas is actively engaged into looking how we can source vaccines, deployed very quickly throughout the country so that we could open up our economy and put our people back to work in a very meaningful way.”
With the country seeing a significant decline in COVID-19 cases over the last month, Mr Wells said the epidemic curve of the virus is flattening, though he said time will tell if the second wave has ended.
“I can certainly say that the curve is flattening in the second wave based on all the indications,” he said. “Are we at the end? That remains to be seen. Over the next week or two we will have an opportunity to more fully delve into the data and be able to give a more concrete answer as to that. But you know, hope springs eternal and it is my hope that we are at the end of the second wave of COVID-19 and I’m praying that we don’t go into a third wave of COVID-19 but as the prime minister said, that is fully dependent on the Bahamian people, us adhering to the health protocols, us doing the kind of disciplined things that we have been doing as the displaced people that we are.”
Mr Wells also defended the declining rate of COVID-19 testing in the country. COVID-19 tests dropped more than 50 percent between November 1 and November 23.
“All of the indicators for the spread of COVID-19 in the country are way down and obviously that is evidence that we are flattening the curve and all of the healthcare protocols and plans that the government has instituted in regards to how we can control COVID-19 is bearing much fruit,” he said.
“So even though the testing is down, it’s a part of our testing protocol. We test those who present, who are symptomatic and we do the RT-PCR test on them which is the gold standard and the mere fact that persons aren’t presenting with symptoms shows that in fact the numbers are down as a result and the testing is down because the spread is down. You could look at our hospitalisation. As of yesterday, we had 19 persons in hospital, down from a high of 122 persons, I think ... October 24 is the date.”