Tue | Jan 25, 2022

Letter of the Day | COVID confusion

Published:Thursday | April 15, 2021 | 12:13 AM

HOWARD MITCHELL, chairman of the National Health Fund (NHF), “has been bombarded by fraudsters seeking to cash in on the global hunger for the jab”. This is another example of the new outlook of some Jamaicans and foreigners to carve out a profit for themselves, no matter what.

It is quite confusing, though, as The Sunday Gleaner of March 21 said that a private vaccine deal was made ahead of local approval between Montego Bay-based Bioprist Pharmaceuticals for the exclusive importation and distribution in Jamaica of the India-made COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin.

It also seems that the Montego Bay company would be in competition with the Government from some of the same supply sources and would certainly open the door for an unregulated free-market feast for money-hungry business people, as Mr Mitchell has experienced already.

Furthermore, it would be the worst form of international relations for this kind of approval in a case where two of three shipments so far have been gifts. On March 8, the Government got 50,000 doses as a gift from India. On March 15, we obtained 14, 400 doses through the COVAX Facility, and, last Thursday, there were 75,000 doses which were a gift from the South African government and Africa Medical Supplies Platform.

This COVID-19 controversy needs to be cleared up and explained to the country, because there are many past and present problems regarding the safety and quality of vaccines worldwide, and millions of AstraZeneca doses have become unsafe and rejected by an American producer, and put on hold in Hong Kong, France and other European countries.

Is it possible, therefore, that rejected vaccines could end up in Jamaica or another country for the sake of a profit and unnecessary business activity?

We need to realise that there is a high level of competition between some companies and countries, plus responses from others, that will negatively influence Jamaicans at home and abroad and limit support for any programme which excludes reputable vaccine producers.

It would be best for the NHF to continue being the managing agency of this vital life-support medicine or vaccine to guarantee the highest level of safety for the country. I don’t see Jamaica having to get involved in any questionable buying-and-selling activity over COVID-19.