Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh announced that the government now expects 33,600 AstraZeneca vaccines to arrive in T&T at the end of March, and not 100,000 as was previously promised.
The government had announced on 30 January 2021 that they were expecting between 100,000 and 120,000 doses of the vaccine by March. Later, on 27 February, the health minister announced 100,800 vaccine doses would arrive by the end of March.
“We are very happy to be receiving 33,600. The balance of 67,000 will come, I am told, sometime in April into early May,” Deyalsingh said.
He said that the government paid for the first shipment on Friday 5 March after receiving a quotation from the Pan-American Health Organisation (Paho). When Wired868 asked why the government paid for the first shipment and not for the entire 100,000 vaccine allocation, the minister said that was up to Paho.
“We have offered to pay upfront … we made that offer last week Wednesday or Thursday, I believe, and they are looking at it. We made that offer so that we can secure the other tranche of 67,000.”
He explained why the vaccines were now coming in two shipments saying: “We decided to go this route and not to wait for the entire shipment because you never can tell what could happen, and an entire shipment might be delayed.”
He said that he expected the US$1.47m paid for the first shipment to land into the accounts of the Pan-American Health Organisation’s (Paho) revolving fund in the next two days.
When Wired868 asked why the vaccines guaranteed to T&T as a participant of the Covax facility had been delayed and the first tranche now split into two shipments, the minister blamed the global vaccine shortage.
“Manufacturers prefer to sell on the commercial market at prices much higher than the Covax facility,” he said. “[Covax] have to weigh the fact that they are not getting as much vaccines as promised.”