Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 23, 2021 (SKNIS): Speaking at a press conference on March 23, Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris reported that there is a global shortage of vaccines as production has not kept pace with expectation.
Additionally, there has been a rise in vaccine nationalism, where rich countries are hoarding vaccines and supply chains have become unreliable, the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Harris said that last Friday at the Meeting of the OECS Authority and again on March 23 at a virtual meeting of the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council, he raised the matter in his capacity as CARICOM Lead Head on Health, HIV and Human Resources with the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom and other Council Members.
“I urged increased advocacy and action to ensure that Small Island Developing States (SIDs) like St. Kitts and Nevis and other member states of the OECS and the wider CARICOM concentric circle are not disadvantaged,” he said. “It was reported that 76 percent of all vaccines have been secured by 10 richest countries.”
The Prime Minister proposed that vaccines should be distributed to those countries most in need and on account of vulnerability.
“At the meeting of the OECS Heads, Dr. Tedros agreed to undertake specific outreach to secure more vaccines for our vulnerable region. Today he advised me that he had made the necessary inquiries on behalf of the region and he is awaiting some form of word.”
At present, Prime Minister Harris said that the Federation has received more than half of its vaccines.
To date, St. Kitts and Nevis has received 22,000 doses of the vaccine of which 2000 doses were made available to Grenada.
“At this time, we have enough to give a second dose to all those who have received their first jab,” he said.
Also speaking at the press conference the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, supported the Prime Minister’s statement that there is enough vaccines available for persons to get their second dose.
She noted that in terms of the Federation’s allotment of 21,600 from the COVAX Facility, they will be received in three tranches.
“So, 7,200 within another week or two. Then in April and in May, we are going to receive 7,200 and another 7,200 until we would have received the 21,600,” she said. “With each batch, we will be targeting the exact number of individuals and we would make sure that their second dose is available. So, no we won’t run out of doses.”