Attorney General Carl Bethel. (File photo)
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel blasted developed countries for hoarding COVID-19 vaccines during a debate in the Senate yesterday.
Although he did not highlight the Unites States of America by name, he alluded to the country during his commentary.
His comment came after Progressive Liberal Party Senator Fred Mitchell praised countries around the world for helping with vaccines.
“I hear the generous comments from the member opposite for the developed world but it is only India that sent us any vaccines, only India,” Mr Bethel said. “The others we paid for through the COVAX Facility and even the director general of the World Health Organisation himself has publicly condemned the behaviour of the developed world in terms of the vaccines.
“I hear promises of making vaccine distributions available quote ‘once they have been found to be safe.’ Well, AstraZeneca has unquestionably been found to be safe. I hear all about 60 million doses in storage. I haven’t seen the first donation. India crippled by this with less than five percent of its population vaccinated even though it is a major producer and licensed producer and [has] copyright for all of these major international vaccine companies, because that’s where the labour [is] cheap. They can’t get vaccines.
“I hear a lot of talk internationally but I don’t see no action. Talk is cheap, money buy land. So if the director general of the World Health Organisation can publicly condemn vaccine nationalism among his major donors, can I who see the same thing not also make the same observation? And I’m not going to give to anyone any sentiments that I don’t actually feel on this matter because there are hundreds of millions of poor, brown-skinned, black-skinned people who have no access whatsoever around this world to vaccination. So, you know, we have to speak truth to power. What is going on is not acceptable.”
Last month, the White House announced the US will share up to 60 million of its AstraZeneca vaccines with other countries and that the doses will be exported in the coming months after a federal review. This week, US President Joe Biden pledged another 20 million vaccine doses.
During a telephone briefing yesterday, a US official said that country has not made a final decision yet on which countries will benefit from America’s promised vaccine sharing but stressed that the COVID-19 situation in CARICOM and Latin American nations has been “front of mind”.
The Chinese Embassy in the Bahamas, meanwhile, has been in talks with the Bahamian government about potentially providing supplies of China’s COVID-19 Sinopharm vaccine which the WHO recently approved for emergency use.
The Minnis administration’s appetite for the vaccine is unclear.