COVID-19 update and press conference – February 9, 2021. (PMO)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has described the Indian-manufactured Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as COVISHIELD, as a “highly safe and effective” vaccine.

During an address to the nation from Ilaro Court tonight, Prime Minister Mottley disclosed that the island had reached “a momentous moment” in its battle against the COVID-19 virus, with the receipt of COVISHIELD vaccines from the Government and people of India. 

“We know that we have a highly safe and effective vaccine. These are not my words but the words of thousands of key scientists and medical experts across the world. It has gone through the most rigorous testing and approval protocols,” Ms. Mottley assured, while noting that the vaccine was being administered to populations in four continents – Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.

She continued: “I’m pleased tonight to be able to confirm that the Government and people of Barbados took possession of nine boxes of vaccines, 100,000 doses of vaccines for 50,000 persons, of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to aid in our battle with COVID-19.”

The Prime Minister pointed out that the COVISHIELD vaccine was not the first pharmaceutical product manufactured in India that Barbadians would be using. 

“Indeed, many of the most common drugs and medicines used by Barbadians for a plethora of ailments and illnesses are manufactured in India,” she noted.

In addition, Ms. Mottley stressed that India has distinguished itself as one of the world’s most accomplished pharmaceutical manufacturers, and has served hundreds of millions of people across the developing world and the developed world.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott; Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt Col. Jeffrey Bostic; Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George and officials on hand to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at the Grantley Adams International Airport today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

“Our confidence in the skill, the science and the standards of the manufacturers in India is unshakable,” she affirmed.

Emphasising that Barbados was in a race against time with respect to variations and mutations of the vaccine, Prime Minister Mottley explained why the COVISHIELD vaccine was the most suitable one for Barbados. 

“We believe that with all the vaccines that are out there, this is one of the most suitable ones for Barbados and other tropical nations like our own, because the temperatures required for storage are not as rigorous as some of the other vaccines.

“Although we are ensuring that if necessary we’re in a position to also be able to store some of the more rigorous ones that require minus 80 degrees.  This one, however, is stored at temperatures that we are accustomed to in our country,” she explained.

Also supporting the use of the COVISHIELD vaccine was Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, who joined via Zoom to thank the Governments of India and Barbados for assisting with the receipt of 70,000 vaccines, received via a Regional Security System (RSS) plane.

Sharing the latest research on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Mr. Skerrit stated: “Oxford University reports that the protection provided by the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine kicks in after three weeks and last right the way through to the second dose at the three-month mark. Guided by the results of the latest studies, this vaccine will reduce the likelihood of transmission to others.”

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