Tue | Apr 13, 2021

Holness addresses COVID vaccine criticisms, welcomes donation from India

Published:Friday | February 26, 2021 | 6:18 PM
Speaking today, Holness noted that the government has been careful on how it speaks on the issues surrounding the procurement of vaccines because of the bilateral and multilateral considerations that exist. (file photo)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is again hitting back at critics of the Government's efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccines.

Holness today stressed that the Government has been using several avenues to procure doses, adding that it has been acting in the best interest of Jamaica.

"I've heard what the Opposition have said and I have heard what others have said. Much of what is being said is not accurate and can be misleading to the public," Holness said.

Opposition Leader Mark Golding went on the attack recently with a broadside against the Government, saying it has been grossly negligent in procuring COVID-19 vaccines for Jamaicans.

READ: Golding accuses Holness of 'gross negligence' over vaccine procurement

Speaking today, Holness noted that the government has been careful on how it speaks on the issues surrounding the procurement of vaccines because of the bilateral and multilateral considerations that exist.

"The work that goes on behind the scenes to get to this point, we don't bring it to the public, and because we don't, it leaves a gap for speculation. You would have heard things like 'the rest of the Caribbean is ahead of us' and 'they have done things that we haven't done.'..You would have seen a statement from CARICOM which explains our position because Jamaica is not the only country awaiting vaccines," Holness said.

READ: VACCINE CRY TO BIDEN - CARICOM appeals to US, says being ‘squeezed out’ by rich countries

He noted that there was a lot of "vaccine politics" at play.

"There is a situation now, where larger countries, more affluent countries are able to procure supplies. We are in the early phase of the production of the vaccine and therefore the demand for the vaccine far outstrips the existing supply,"

Today, the Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica His Excellency Ambassador Masakui Rungsung, announced that a donation of vaccines is set to arrive next week.

The Health and Wellness Ministry had previously stated that it expects to receive 50,000 doses of vaccines from India.

Rungsung noted that India has committed to providing 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries and that Jamaica’s share is ready to be shipped.

READ: Jamaica to get COVID-19 vaccines from India next week

Holness expressed gratitude for the donation and said that Jamaica is looking ahead to its vaccination programme. 

"We are making sure that the vaccines we have are approved by the World Health Organization...we are making sure that when the vaccines get here they can be distributed and administered very quickly so that there are no delays in storage and confusion about who should get. All of that work is being done."

"Your government is acting in your best interest," Holness said.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton stated that the vaccination storage facilities have been vetted and are ready.

READ: Tufton says vaccination storage facilities are ready

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