Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh MP.

Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, is calling for Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh MP, to be fired, over statements the minister had made concerning the COVID-19 vaccines donated to this country by CARICOM partner, Barbados.

Mrs Persad-Bissessar has accused Minister Deyalsingh of making false statements during the Ministry’s press conference on Wednesday 17 February 2021.  Specifically, she is taking issue with his comment that the vaccines were:

“…a gift from the Government of India, which used Barbados as a conduit for vaccine donations across the Caribbean…”

However, the health minister has since corrected himself, issuing a statement of apology on Wednesday night.

“The Minister confirms that the 2,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine were, in fact, a gift given to Trinidad and Tobago from Barbados.  This was generously provided from the stock of vaccines that the Government of India provided to Barbados for their use. The Minister of Health was unfortunately misinformed and apologies for this error,” the release issued by the Ministry read.

The release added: “The Minister also offers his deepest gratitude to the people of Barbados for this kind gesture of regional collaboration.”

Notwithstanding the minister’s apology, the Opposition Leader is calling for his removal from office.  The following is the full text of her statement on the matter.

Kamla: Deyalsingh must go now

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley must take immediate action and fire Terrence Deyalsingh.

This is necessary given the inexcusable and false statements Minister Deyalsingh made concerning the recent donation of Covid 19 vaccines by the Government of Barbados.

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.

That Trinidad and Tobago has had to rely on vaccine donations from Barbados 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.

While the rest of the world is moving ahead with speedy vaccine programs, T&T 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.

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. 

Given that the Covid -19 pandemic is the most serious health crisis we are 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.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Opposition Leader of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago