A health care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the US in July. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville accused the former administration of failing to do what was necessary to secure additional vaccines, leading to the current shortage in the country.
He also gave an update on when more vaccines are expected to arrive in the country.
He had previously said that the country should receive some 57,000 vaccine doses in the first week of November.
“The vaccines are on track,” Dr Darville said. “We have a supply of Pfizer that is en route. I was fortunate enough to have good news that the vaccines donated by the United States government, the Pfizer vaccine, are right behind and so the issue as it relates to vaccines is actually working extremely well.
“I would like to also say this. I didn’t want to, but when I came to office we realised that the reason why we experienced the delay in the Pfizer from the COVAX facility was because under the former administration, someone forgot to apply and as a result of that it pushed us in the back and so now because of negotiation it will be here in the first week of November.
“…With the COVAX facility, the responsibility (laid) with someone from the Ministry of Health or from the component authority to actually document what we are supposed to be doing. It was delayed and as a result of the delay, it could’ve been the election, we found ourselves when we came to office to move swiftly to resolve the problem and I believe if that piece of document was signed or conveyed we would’ve had the COVAX facility vaccine here in advance. Likewise for the donations from the American vaccine. Something or someone dropped the ball and we were placed further behind the line.
“So these things I had to resolve when I became minister through negotiations, thank God, with the United States government and the COVAX facility and PAHO, we are back on track. “. . .This is a reality I found and the delay of the vaccine should fall at their feet.”
Former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis recently criticised the Davis administration’s handling of the pandemic, saying its response has been “disastrous.”
Yesterday, Dr Darville said he disagrees with Dr Minnis’ assessment and highlighted the snap election being called in the midst of a pandemic.
“If you really look at what has happened around the world and you look at what happened in Jamaica and Trinidad and look at their cases, prior to the calling of the election and after the election, it is quite evident that election being called in the middle of a pandemic clearly demonstrates that you would have increased COVID cases and death. So I think his statements is a bit disingenuous because the facts are there and the epidemiological studies are clear that an election in the middle of a pandemic results in spikes in COVID as well as death,” Dr Darville said.
Dr Minnis also said the government needed to move quickly to stop the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable Family Islands.
“Well in the Family Islands, just like I said before, we moved immediately to see exactly what’s going on in the Family Islands and to my surprise things were a lot worse than I even thought I would find,” Dr Darville said. “So after four years I find it very disingenuous that the former minister of health and the prime minister could speak about the Family Islands and the fact that they left the healthcare infrastructure in one of the most deplorable states. My job now is to not complain. My job is to go in there, fix the situation and begin to implement new measures that will begin to control the clusters and prevent community spread,” he said.
Meanwhile, he reaffirmed that the Davis administration has no intentions of renewing the Emergency Orders when they expire next month, but will instead bring legislation to chart the way forward.