BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, September 14, 2021 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has told the global community that the time to effectively tackle the COVID-19 pandemic is now. This he said can be achieved through the use of vaccines which the prime minister described as the greatest tool in the fight against the deadly disease.
Prime Minister Harris, in his capacity as lead Prime Minister for Health in the CARICOM quasi cabinet of Ministers, was at the time delivering remarks virtually at the inaugural Lean In For Tomorrow (LIFT) Conference held today, Tuesday, September 14 under the theme ‘Vaccine Access For All Must Be Guaranteed’.
The LIFT conference is a movement that seeks to bring together government and private sector leadership from African and Caribbean nations in an effort to garner publicity for a campaign to improve citizen confidence in vaccines and work with major global corporations to assist with the donation of vaccines to vulnerable states.
“Since COVID-19 made its appearance in December 2019, and was declared a pandemic in March 2020, we have continued to deal with the urgency of now. To date, we have had approximately two hundred and nineteen million cases and over 4.55 million deaths worldwide,” said Prime Minister Harris during his presentation.
The St. Kitts and Nevis prime minister noted that the world is now facing a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, fueled by new and more transmissible variants of the virus.
Dr. Harris said, “While the numbers increase it has become clear that the hospitalizations and deaths are much more likely amongst those who remain unvaccinated. Some have even coined this new surge as a ‘Pandemic of the unvaccinated’. The Urgency of Now is ever more apparent. We now have the tool to better protect our frontline workers and our population – and that tool is the vaccine.”
The honourable prime minister also used his presentation at the inaugural LIFT conference to advocate for the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines in a way that reduces the wastage of this critical life-saving tool.
He added, “We must maximize the use of community, national and regional systems of sharing and distribution to facilitate the allocation and exchange of vaccines in such a manner that minimizes the expiration and wastage of the vaccines. We must remove the barriers as the wastage of any vaccines when there is the potential to get it into a willing recipient, should not be acceptable in our region. I challenge all individuals and institutions involved in the governance, design, or execution of the supply chain of vaccines, to reconsider and make the changes needed to ensure limited wastage of this resource while so many are in need of it.”
Prime Minister Harris reiterated that no nation is safe until all nations are safe, and as such emphasized that we must all “do everything in our collective power to ensure that the maximum number of persons can be vaccinated in the minimum time possible.”