Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh MP.

Renuka Singh

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is demanding that the Prime Minister take “immediate” action and fire his Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh.

This follows a misstep by Deyalsingh on Wednesday during the rollout of the first 2,000 COVID-19 vaccines doses in T&T. The vaccines were a gift from Barbados which shared some of the 50,000 vaccines it received from India.

However, at the media conference, Deyalsingh said India gifted the vaccines to the region and Barbados was just the distribution hub. It is unclear why he said that or where he got that information.

By 10 pm Wednesday night, the minister issued an apology saying that he was misinformed and the vaccines were in fact a gift from Barbados.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley also took to social media to thank Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley for the vaccine gift.

However, Persad-Bissessar is insisting that Deyalsingh be removed because of his “false statements” on this matter.

“At a press conference on the roll-out of the vaccines, Deyalsingh claimed that they were a gift from the Government of India, which used Barbados as a conduit for vaccine donations across the Caribbean. This has proven to be a flat out lie. The truth is Barbados generously gifted Trinidad and Tobago a portion of vaccines from their own stock,” she said.

The Opposition Leader said the fact that T&T must rely on re-gifted vaccines “is a damning indictment on the Government”.

“If we are to believe the Minister of Health that he did not know the source of the vaccines his own Ministry administered to front line workers, he is clearly incompetent and unfit for his job. It perhaps also explains the shambolic manner in which the Keith Rowley regime has bungled the response to the Covid -19 pandemic,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said while the rest of the world is moving ahead with speedy vaccine programmes, this country “has yet to fully test the majority of our population for COVID-19”.

” It is also unclear just how and when T&T can expect to be fully vaccinated. At the current rate, T&T will be the last country in the world to be fully vaccinated,” the Opposition Leader said. “It is also beyond puzzling why the Rowley regime has not approached the Government of India for a supply of vaccines as did the Government of Barbados.”

She said with the COVID -19 pandemic the most serious health crisis T&T is facing, “the public can have no trust in the Government’s response as long as Terrence Deyalsingh remains in his post”.

“He must go now,” she said.