Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, left, Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Minister, Dr. Amery Browne, and Kumar Gupta, High Commissioner for Canada to T&T at Piarco International Airport to receive the shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, yesterday.

Rishard [email protected]

Canada’s donation of 82,030 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived at the Piarco International Airport at 3.33 pm yesterday.

The announcement was made by Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Amery Browne via his Facebook page. The delivery came hours after it was announced on Wednesday. The T&T Medical Association public relations officer Keegan Bhaggan said it was a welcomed donation and though it may seem small, every bit counts. While it is yet to be announced how the doses will be incorporated into the country’s vaccination plan, Bhaggan said it could help those who had a bad reaction to the Sinopharm doses currently used. He said it could even be used to combat vaccine hesitancy due to personal preference. “Vaccine hesitancy is really multifactorial. A lot of the population have many different reasons why they may not want to take a particular vaccine and one of those reasons could be simply the choice of vaccines,” he said. “Having an alternate brand gives the opportunity for that choice to be made. Even though it’s a small amount it still will help some.” Vaccine hesitancy is a growing issue locally.

The Minister of Health’s admission that August is going to need to witness large levels of inoculations- especially if the September target of fully immunising around 65 per cent of the country’s adult population is to be met. To do this, around 20,000 people would need to receive a jab per day on average by the Minister’s calculation. However, to date, only some 18,786 first doses have been administered for the month- a daily average of 3,757.2 first doses. If this rate persists, when September ends, the country will only just be completing first doses of the vaccines already in hand. According to a Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs release on Wednesday night, the donation was a result of diplomatic talks on the part of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Browne. “This donation comes subsequent to advocacy engaged by Prime Minister the Honourable Dr Keith Rowley via direct correspondence to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this year, and subsequent to consistent diplomacy and dialogue between Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne, his Canadian counterpart Minister Marc Garneau, and the High Commissioner of Canada to Trinidad and Tobago H.E. Kumar Gupta,” it said. A release from the Government of Canada said these were excess doses. “Trinidad and Tobago was selected to receive these doses based on need and the country’s capacity to deploy them immediately, minimising wastage, and maximising the public health impact,” it said. While we continue our vaccine rollout, we must also make sure the rest of the world has access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Today’s donation to Trinidad & Tobago will provide excess doses to those most in need, protecting communities around the world,” Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said.