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Rishard [email protected]

The national vaccination drive has been accelerated with Tuesday’s arrival of 40,000 doses of COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccines from India made at the Serum Institute of India using the Oxford-AstraZeneca formula.

According to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh during yesterday’s virtual press conference, the arrival of the doses now means all 33,600 doses of vaccines received from COVAX can be administered as a first dose while the batch from India can be used for the second. This is especially beneficial as the COVAX doses expire at the end of May while the India batch expires on July 18. “That means with the 33,600 and the 40,000 (doses) we can now vaccinate about…roughly 35/36,000 persons…and that is what we’re aiming for,” Deyalsingh said. Furthermore, he said the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has stated T&T is on track to receive the remaining 67,200 doses from COVAX in May. With these factors, the ministry will begin its second phase of inoculations which would run simultaneously with the first. “We are now in a position to start in a small scale phase two of our vaccination programme where we start to vaccinate essential workers. This phase starts on Saturday,” he said. First to get a jab in this phase would be all parliamentarians and their spouses, senior public officers and, by next week, “we are going to start Local Government personnel.” “What we are trying to do is keep central government, senior public officers in the public service at the senior level operating and local government- we consider these essential workers,” he said. Next up, he said are essential workers under the ambit of the Ministry of National Security such as frontline members of the protective services and would include frontline custom officers under the Ministry of Finance. On Tuesday night, the 40,000 doses of vaccine arrived in the country and were handed over to the Ministry of Health by the India High Commissioner to T&T Arun Kumar Sahu.

The doses were supposed to arrive on Monday but the shipment was delayed due to inclement weather.