Wed | Jan 26, 2022

75,000 doses of COVID vaccines to arrive in five days

Published:Wednesday | March 31, 2021 | 10:39 AM
Howard Mitchell: "These shipments totaling 121,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines should ensure the NHF’s ability to distribute vaccines through April into May 2021, until the supply chain for COVID-19 vaccine stabilises.”

Jamaica has secured a total of 121,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines which are expected to be delivered over the course of the next two months.

The first instalment is to be approximately 75,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), which are to arrive in the island in the next five days, Chairman of the National Health Fund (NHF), Howard Mitchell, disclosed in a statement today.

Yesterday, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton told Parliament that those doses are expected to arrive on Thursday.

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Mitchell further indicated that 20,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from commercial sources are expected to arrive two to three weeks, along with another 26,000 doses of AstraZeneca thereafter.

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“These shipments totalling 121,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines should ensure the NHF’s ability to distribute vaccines through April into May 2021, until the supply chain for COVID-19 vaccine stabilises,” he said.

In Photo: Howard Mitchell

Mitchell indicated that the supplies of vaccines are a part of negotiations between the Government and the World Health Organization-backed COVAX Facility and the African Medical Support Platform, which was established by the African Union member states.

Under these agreements, Jamaica has been allocated sufficient vaccines to inoculate 1.5 million residents.

In order to achieve herd immunity, Mitchell noted that Jamaica still needs to secure a further one million doses of double-dose vaccines or five hundred thousand single-dose vaccines.

He indicated that among the challenges faced in securing COVID-19 vaccines for the country are issues surrounding production, as the manufacturers face difficulties in raw material supplies and transportation logistics.

The NHF chairman further stated that global cargo space shortages also make it difficult to predict delivery times and serve to delay the movement of cargo across different jurisdictions.

Further, the global demand for COVID-19 vaccines is currently as much as five times the rate of production and the larger, wealthier countries have secured most of the early production, Mitchell noted.

“Notwithstanding these and other difficulties, Jamaica, through the concerted efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs And Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Health And Wellness, the NHF, and with the goodwill and support of our African colleagues and the WHO, is managing to obtain further vaccine supplies from several sources to allow us to continue the roll-out of our inoculation plan. Also to develop the technology and logistical processes necessary to achieve a safe and efficient island-wide COVID -19 vaccination programme,” said Mitchell.

The NHF estimates that the difficult market conditions will begin to ameliorate within the next two months.

In the intervening period, Mitchell said the NHF team and the other ministries and agencies involved in securing COVID-19 vaccines will continue their strenuous efforts to maintain a steady supply of the vaccines and to achieve greater predictability of transportation and delivery.

Jamaica's vaccination programme began earlier this month and the health ministry has indicated that approximately 30,000 doses of vaccine have been administered so far.

The country has received about 64,000 doses of vaccines.

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