By Latonya Linton
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The ministry of health and wellness, in collaboration with the ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade, has started to explore other options for COVID-19 vaccines outside of the COVAX facility.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, February 2, health minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, said the government has been in discussion with five countries and one additional facility, all of which are at an advanced stage of vaccine development.
“Jamaica has made a formal request to the CARICOM Secretariat for some 250,000 doses of vaccines as determined by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) from the 1.5 million doses allocated to CARICOM by the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP),” Dr Tufton said.
“Our interest is in the AstraZenca vaccine from this facility. India also has COVAXIN vaccines available and it will be making some 500,000 doses available to CARICOM. We are awaiting the approval of the World Health Organization (WHO) of the COVAXIN and the notification of the amount that will be allocated from India for Jamaica,” he informed.
Dr Tufton said that the government has also indicated its interest in obtaining information from China and Cuba, where the development of vaccines is at phase three of the trial stage.
He said the ministry is awaiting further information on those vaccines as it relates to “their officially assessed level of clinical efficacy” and the allocation that could become available to Jamaica.
“We have also explored the option of obtaining the AstraZenca vaccines from Mexico and the United Kingdom. The ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade has initiated dialogue with the United Kingdom government, even as we talk with Mexico under our bilateral arrangements, with an option to approaching our negotiation through the intergovernmental mechanism – the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC),” Dr Tufton told the House.
He noted that the objective is to expand the pool of available vaccines, so that as many Jamaicans as possible can be reached.
“This will help to slow the spread of the disease and reduce the severity of illness of the vulnerable,” Dr Tufton said.