By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
CONSULTANT physicians are hoping officials will soon release a timeline regarding when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available for administration in the country.
However, Consultant Physician Staff Association president Sabriquet Pinder-Butler said the decision has to be made with proper consideration.
“We hope that a definitive timeline would be provided soon,” Dr Pinder-Butler told The Tribune. “But we appreciate that a lot of different factors are involved with determining which vaccine would be procured for The Bahamas.”
Asked if there was a particular brand of vaccine the CPSA endorses, she said: “The Centres for Disease Control recommended two vaccines and a few others are being worked on. CPSA is aware and continues to review the data as vaccine administration is fairly new in most countries so we are carefully monitoring this so that we can support/endorse a proper vaccine roll out in the country.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen told The Tribune yesterday officials were looking at the possibility of giving the vaccines to priority groups once health professionals receive it.
He was asked how health officials planned to handle the first 80,000 vaccines the country is in line to receive.
Dr Brennen said he did not have a preference for a vaccine.
Last month, Health Minister Renward Wells said the government was engaged in its own talks with several vaccine producers.
At the time, he said Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis is “leading the charge” on those discussions and added the government will not import any vaccine that will put people at risk.
He previously reiterated that The Bahamas remains on the “queue” to receive 80,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine whenever it becomes available, which the government has already made a $250,000 down payment towards.
“The total cost is going to be about $1.6 million,” he said at the time. “We’ve already paid $250,000 of that and so we’re just waiting for the WHO (World Health Organisation) to approve whether it’s Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, I think the Chinese have about two vaccines out, the Russians have about two and a number of other countries such as Israel and other nations in Europe are developing vaccines as well, and whichever that WHO agrees to, that’s the one that we’re going to be using.”
He added: “But, The Bahamas is also in negotiations directly with the various known brands of vaccines that are being developed such as Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca. We’re speaking to them directly. We haven’t reached out to them directly. Interestingly enough, they’ve reached out to us and we’re doing our due diligence as a nation and the Prime Minister is actually leading the charge on that. “
On Wednesday the Ministry of Health released a statement clarifying that no one under the age of 18 years of age will be administered a COVID-19 vaccine until the World Health Organisation and scientific evidence say it is safe to do so and with the consent of parents.
The ministry also noted the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine will be “entirely voluntary”.
The ministry explained there are clinical trials currently underway on the vaccine relating to people 12 to 17 years of age. The vaccines being administered in the United States have not yet been approved for use in those under 16.