T&T could jeopardise its chances of getting more vaccine donations in the future if the latest batch of Pfizer vaccines is not used, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday.
“We received part of the third tranche of Pfizer vaccines on Thursday, 75,000 which represents half of the third tranche of 150,000. I thank the Government and people and the President of the United States for making these Pfizer vaccines available to us. However, this gift comes with a proviso.
“We had to dump 260,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines which were gifted to us. I want to alert the population that the second tranche of 75,000 if we do not use or show appetite to use a significant or all of these 75,000 doses we would be jeopardising our ability to receive any more vaccines. Let us use it.”
Deyalsingh, who spoke yesterday at the Ministry of Health’s virtual media conference, also detailed the process of decommissioning the parallel health system as the country moves from the pandemic to endemic stage of COVID-19.
He said in early February when he announced that the Point Fortin Hospital would be decommissioned as a COVID facility he had indicated that the second facility that would go that way would be the Arima General Hospital.
“I can say that the Point Fortin Hospital at this time is on target to be fully decommissioned as a COVID facility by next week Saturday. The next two facilities that are earmarked for decommissioning, once the numbers support it, would start to look at the Arima General Hospital to be decommissioned, also the first step-down facility to be decommissioned will be the Tacarigua Racquet Centre,” Deyalsingh said.
The Couva Hospital will be retained as a COVID facility over the medium-term, as well as the St James Hospital. If the numbers continue to be favourable, there are plans to decommission the field hospital at the Jean Pierre Complex and possibly move into another Regional Health Authority (RHA).
The minister said he has raised the issue of doing a national seroprevalence study to look at how the country is moving from the pandemic to endemic stage.
“What this study will do is to help determine the levels of antibodies in the population by examining blood samples, taking their serums and looking for the levels of antibodies in the general population. This will help fill knowledge gaps and will help us determine how close our estimates are to where we feel our national immunity is in the population. It will help us predict what hospital capacity we need and the potential of future surges,” he said
Deyalsingh said his only regret is that there are still people dying although in small numbers.
Responding to claims that the government moved too early to start removing restrictions, Deyalsingh said: “There will always be a discussion as to when to roll back measures but the Prime Minister has always had an acute sense of timing as to when his intervention is required. He has been doing this for two years now and he has not made one wrong step.
“We think now our metrics, our hospital capacity allows it. Our hospitals are under 30 per cent occupied right now. We are in a pretty good place now to take on risk.”
On Friday in Parliament, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced some of the biggest rollbacks of restrictions since the pandemic started two years ago.
Deyalsingh said this was necessary for the national good.
“We are happy to make these adjustments for the national good, the national psyche, the national mental health being, productivity issues. I think the timing is right,” he said.