Dr Hinds: Vaccine won’t be enough to stop Covid-19 in T&T

A third Covid-19 vaccine is seeing positive clinical trial results. The vaccine, developed by the Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is said to have a 70-90% efficacy. It does not need to be stored at freezing temperatures; it can be stored between 2 and 8 degrees. And it is both easier and cheaper to produce than either of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Despite this good news, with a vaccination strategy to immunise one-third of the population, no vaccine that is finally approved for use in Trinidad and Tobago will stop the virus by itself.

Photo: Man being vaccinated (by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from Unsplash)

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said at the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 media conference on 25 November 2020: “The vaccination strategy that is being employed is not one that is aimed at generating population-wide herd immunity.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 60-70% of the population would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

Instead, in Trinidad and Tobago, two main groups will be vaccinated: individuals with a high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, and those with a high risk of exposure to the virus, like frontline workers and medical professionals.

So those hoping to toss their masks or attend large gatherings again once a vaccine is found could find themselves disappointed.

Dr Hinds said that the vaccine would be an additional tool against the spread of the virus.

“It’s going to support the testing, the tracing the isolation and quarantine, and it’s going to support the measures we all take as individuals to reduce our risk by having the physical distancing, the mask-wearing, the hand sanitisation and hygiene, the avoidance of gatherings when we’re ill,” he said. “So, it’s another layer; it does not in any way replace the need to do all of these things in order to reduce risk. But what it should do, hopefully, is reduce the potential for some of the surges in either deaths or cases based on our protection of targeted groups.”

Globally, Dr Hinds reported that there was an uptrend in new confirmed cases of the virus in every territory, except the African territories. Locally, there has been a gradual increase in the rolling 7-day average over the past 21 days. The daily average is now about 33 cases per day.

Globally there have been 58,900,547 confirmed cases and 1,393,305 deaths due to Covid-19. In T&T, 6,503 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed since March. With another fatality reported today, the death toll is now 116.

There were 15 new cases of infection reported today. One of these new cases comes from the prison system. There are 175 inmates quarantined in the prison system.

The total number of active cases in the country is 732. Forty-five patients are in hospital, 30 in step-down facilities and 142 in state quarantine facilities.

Photo: The novel coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health reminds members of the public to adhere to the ‘new normal’ and:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you go out in public;
  • Keep your distance from others (six feet);
  • Stay home if you are ill;
  • Clean then sanitise surfaces, such as tabletops, doorknobs and cell phones;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser;
  • Cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbow;
  • Avoid touching your face.

Persons are urged to call Covid-19 hotline numbers: 877-WELL, 87-SWRHA or 877-3742 (Trinidad) and 800-HEAL (Tobago) if they feel unwell; or they can report a possible breach of Covid-19 regulations by calling 555, or sending messages—inclusive of photographs and videos—to the Police App or via WhatsApp to 482-GARY.

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About Fayola Bostic

Fayola Bostic is a writer and copyeditor. She is the founder of Write Energy Ltd, which creates content for technical industry brands. Fayola is a former engineer who has been writing professionally for more than a decade.

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