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Members of the public follow COVID-19 guidelines as they wait in line to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday at SAPA, last month

Rishard [email protected]

The public’s demand for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have “plummetted” according to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh. “The demand for AstraZeneca, for whatever reasons, has plummeted to almost 0…this is a pattern you see week on week,” he said during yesterday’s virtual press conference.

He said on any given day between 800 to 1,000 people would access Sinopharm vaccines and between 2,000 to 2,500 would access Pfizer. “Yesterday (Sunday) no person accessed AstraZeneca I believe. The data I have here up to Thursday- 10 persons on Thursday, seven persons last week Wednesday, 13 persons last week Tuesday and that is how it goes,” he said. Given the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses’ short shelflife, he said T&T has been exploring its donation to other countries through the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs. He said they also notified the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) through the COVAX facility. “We have these doses, we are giving you a full two months notice so any country, any donee country, any receiving country- you have a full two months to accept and utilise AstraZeneca vaccines,” he said. The demand for the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine among the adult population has been more favourable than that among those between 12 to 18 years- its originally intended recipients. But with the Delta variant’s detection among the population and the nearing expiration date on the jabs government has injected 50,000 more Pfizer doses into the national vaccination drive for adults. Deyalsingh said the doses will be made available while also reserving some for the most critical demographic- children between 12 and 18 years. “We will still ring-fence those doses for children but I am urging parents…I am asking parents in a very sincere way… don’t let your children be sitting ducks for the Delta variant please,” he said. While Pfizer has applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval to use its COVID-19 vaccine in children between the ages of five and 11, the Minister of Health said T&T will be waiting on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) approval before adopting the approach here. “Our policy in Trinidad and Tobago is to let WHO look at data from 193 countries before we make policy decisions on who receives vaccines and who should not be receiving vaccines. Whether it’s booster shots or children,” he said. “The Sinopharm vaccine I believe is already before the WHO for sign-off for younger children. So that one is maybe closer to the finish line as far as WHO is concerned.”