US President Joe Biden. (Image courtesy The White House)

Opposition MP Rodney Charles is urging the Prime Minister to ensure this country is first in line to receive part of the 80 million COVID vaccines which US President Biden has promised to export to the world.

In a release following President Biden’s announcement this afternoon, MP Charles says the PM must move with alacrity to secure vaccines for Trinidad and Tobago.

The US President revealed today that an additional 20 million vaccines will be shared with the world, doses which will be drawn from vaccine stocks of Pfizer and Moderna.  This new announcement is in addition to the 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine Mr Biden previously promised to make available.

“President Biden today stressed that the US had already shared 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca to Canada and 2.5 million to Mexico. TT was not part of that first tranche,” the Naparima MP observes.

“A renewed request should already have been forwarded to the State Department with follow up action by TT’s US Ambassador, and a formal diplomatic note to the US Embassy,” the Opposition MP stated, noting that the US decision forms part of its vaccine diplomacy to ensure that further variants are not developed globally which will impact the US.

He says Government must “use, to the fullest extent, TTs highly paid lobbyist Art Collins who reportedly has excellent links with the powerful Congressional Black Caucus. This influential interest group has a not insignificant influence on the Biden administration. It is time for results, not old talk.”

“It is not enough to have a zoom meeting with Congresswoman Maxine Waters that results in nothing tangible,” MP Charles points out.  “What we need is for a results-driven approach that leads to vaccines being made available to our country, and US investments post-COVID to assist our economic recovery efforts.”

The Naparima MP also is calling on the National Security Minister, Fitzgerald Hinds, to let the

country know whether the maritime borders are fully secure currently.

“All our efforts to reduce the COVID epidemic, based on a fully enforced SOE, will come to naught if our borders remain porous, resulting in scores of untested illegal immigrants appearing daily on our shores and mixing with our population,” MP Charles argues.

“We must stop the pipeline of illegal immigrants which will wreak havoc on all our attempts to limit the spread of the virus,” he adds.

The Opposition MP stresses that even as the country secures its borders to end illegal immigration, it must still be humane in its treatment of Venezuelans fleeing poverty in their home country and protect those migrants who are here already.