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Flashback August: Arima North Secondary School vice principal Arianne Garcia-D'abreau looks on as nurse Alexander administers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to her son Patrick at the Larry Gomes Stadium on the first day of vaccinations to school children.

Government is in talks with major pharmaceutical manufacturers of cutting edge drugs and is also discussing utilising COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh revealed the information yesterday in Parliament, as he responded to questions from Opposition Chief Whip David Lee on measures to deal with the third wave of COVID-19 in the country.

Deyalsingh said the Delta variant is now in 193 countries and noted that he said back in August that it was not a matter of if but when the variant would hit T&T.

At that time, Deyalsingh said the rolling seven-day average was 221 and the vaccination rate stood at 21 per cent.

It is confirmed to be in all counties throughout T&T now.

He said the Government started a plan with the State of Emergency and because of that, the vaccination rate went up to 45 per cent. Without the SoE, Deyalsingh said the hiring of 466 extra vaccinators couldn’t have been done without touching parent legislation.

He said there were public education programmes and over 300 touchpoints for vaccinations.

The Health Minister also said the Government is in talks with major pharmaceutical manufacturers on cutting edge drugs, anti-virals or other therapeutics, as well as the vaccine for children.

He said half a million dollars was also sent to UWI to increase genomic sequencing capacity for variants of concern.

In addition, Deyalsingh said nine hospitals were activated, as well as seven step-down facilities. There are now 999 beds in the parallel health system, along with the National Emergency operational centres activated, leading to 13 more Intensive Care Unit beds last weekend.

Deyalsingh added, “All of this we have been doing and while we’re at 45 per cent vaccination rate, it’s still not good enough. I urge all those who are not vaccinated to listen to the science, believe in it and do the right thing with the three Ws—wash hands, wear a mask, watch your distance—so we could all have a Merry Christmas.”