Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has issued an official statement, in response to the Opposition Leader’s call for the health minister to be fired, following Minister Deyalsingh’s apology over misspeaking on the donation of COVID-19 vaccines from Barbados.
The full text of the statement, follows…
Response to the Opposition Leader’s Latest Attack on the Minister of Health
This is pure mischief and the usual disruptive behaviour of a deranged Opposition Leader struggling for relevance.
As all CARICOM countries are busily engaged in positioning ourselves to obtain vaccines from a turbulent pandemic market environment, we in Trinidad and Tobago are careful to obtain and accept vaccines ONLY from sources which have WHO approval and certification. This is for the protection of our population.
It was in this situation of constant regional communication that Prime Minister Mottley of Barbados indicated to me (not the Minister of Health) that Barbados was offered 50,000 doses of a vaccine from India and that she was making a gift gesture of 2000 of these doses available to Trinidad and Tobago for “essential persons” (including PM and Cabinet).
I accepted the offer knowing that not all suppliers of these products from India had received WHO clearance. I anticipated and it did come to pass that by the time we got the items and waited a while, the WHO only recently certified the source supplier in India and thus we were able to use these vaccines, not on the Cabinet, but on our frontline health care givers.
Our national program remains on track as we have continuously informed the national population.
Monies have been paid, local preparations have been made, orders and negotiations outside of the COVAX supply are currently underway and we are close to receiving and using our anticipated supply.
Vaccines are currently said to be available from many sources around the world, not all of which carry the quality assurance stamp of the WHO. It is up to individual governments to determine how they treat with the various sources and supply chains. In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, in protection of our citizens, we will maintain our policy of working within the COVAX, WHO and PAHO and expect to receive our safe quotas from myriad sources as soon as they become available.
We will ignore the persistent attempts of the irresponsible Opposition whose only aim is to undermine the national effort and disturb the psyche of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Notwithstanding the best efforts of the Opposition Leader and her few followers, the people of Trinidad and Tobago can continue to rest assured that their interests are well served in the management of this pandemic challenges by a Government which has been careful at the beginning and remains competent and caring to the end.