COVID-19 update and press conference – February 15, 2021. (PMO)

As of Sunday night, 2,863 people were vaccinated with the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Barbados, and most persons are expected to receive their second dose in another 10 weeks.

And Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has declared that vaccinations will be “considerably ramped up” from this week, with the inclusion of the vulnerable population being vaccinated, as Barbados continues to wage war against COVID-19.

She made these disclosures during an address to the nation yesterday while giving an update on the island’s present situation, and on the vaccination campaign, which was launched a week ago.

Noting that health professionals and security personnel were at the front of the vaccination programme thus far, Ms. Mottley said it would continue with other frontline workers receiving the jab.

In addition, the Prime Minister said that as of Monday morning, just over 2,000 persons over the age of 70 and under 1,000 between ages 18 and 69 had registered to be vaccinated.

“Once we ramp up the public education programme, we expect those numbers to continue even more,” she said, stressing that if the number of vaccinations were increased, COVID-19 could be wrestled to the ground.

Ms. Mottley added that it was Government’s desire to have more vaccines available in the country to facilitate more people, whether they are citizens or not, being vaccinated by the end of April or early May.

To facilitate that process, she noted that Government was able to settle different supplies of vaccines in addition to the 100,000, which it received from India last week.

A healthcare worker being vaccinated as part of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. (FP)

“We know that that will need to be expanded. And as a result, what we have been able to do is that we have four different leads from the COVAX, which we’ve already paid for…. The difficulty with COVAX is that they cannot guarantee when they are going to be delivering, and how much they’re going to be delivering, so that countries have had to go there and find their own way,” Ms. Mottley explained.

In addition, she noted that even as Government sought to purchase additional doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca from India, they were also pursuing another lead from which to purchase the vaccine.

Ms. Mottley added that Barbados was also awaiting the approval of the pharmacological committees and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Sputnik V vaccine, whose performance was rated as “exceptional”. “Those are commitments that we have, as opposed to expected delivery,” she noted.

She added that Barbados was waiting to purchase some vaccines from Africa, and possibly try the Pfizer.

“With respect, therefore, to the vaccination programme, I really do hope that we will see a concomitant increase in the numbers of persons being vaccinated, as well as in the supply of vaccines,” she stated.

However, the Prime Minister noted that while there were no exact dates for the delivery of the other four sources of vaccines, the WHO approved the AstraZeneca.

“What you will have is the COVAX being able to deliver the AstraZeneca to the countries of the world who are benefiting from COVAX, so we expect to get something soon,” she assured the public.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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