PAHO says T&T getting vaccines on March 31

Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Guyana are scheduled to receive their shipments of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility next week.

The information was revealed by the Pan American Health Organisation in its latest COVAX vaccine delivery listing yesterday.

The listing stated that both T&T and Belize will receive 33,600 doses of the vaccines next Wednesday (March 31) while Guyana will get the same amount on Monday (March 29).

The announcement came even as questions were asked about whether T&T’s COVID-19 vaccines were expected from the 29 million vaccines found in last Thursday’s Italian warehouse “raid” which involved vaccines meant for “low and middle-income countries” via COVAX.

Yesterday, CNN reported that the European Union had proposed tighter controls on vaccine export, marking a row with the EU bloc and British/ Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca.

CNN noted the issue arose at the same time as 29 million doses of vaccines planned for export were found during a “raid” on an Italian factory near Rome. An AstraZeneca spokesperson refuted reports that the doses were part of a “stockpile,” saying they were made outside of the European Union and had been brought to the factory to be filled into vials “before distributing them to low and middle-income countries through the COVAX facility.”

The spokesman said 13 million doses were “awaiting quality control releases to be dispatched to COVAX,” while the other 16 million were awaiting quality control for release to Europe. The spokesman said the doses have to wait for quality control clearance after the vials are filled.

Local stakeholders, including businesspeople, yesterday queried if T&T’s expected vaccines from COVAX were among those found and if so, if that would cause a delay in the shipment arriving here.

Yesterday also, local questions continued on AstraZeneca. This after British newspaper The Independent —and other reports—noted the vaccine is “struggling to shake off lingering doubts and questions” following queries on efficacy for the elderly and blood clots, including in women under 55-65. Use was suspended in some states following the latter.

The US Food and Drug Administration’s yet to give clearance after its trials. CNBC reported that the National Institute of Allergy/Infectious Diseases (headed by US’ Dr Anthony Fauci) had questioned the accuracy of its trial results given Monday. The US’ Data and Safety Monitoring Board on Monday stated it was concerned AstraZeneca may have included outdated information in the latest trials.

Also yesterday, India—where another mutant strain of the virus has emerged—held up export licenses for vaccines destined for poor countries due to increased domestic demand as its cases rise, COVAX facility co-leader GAVI stated in the Economic Times.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh did not answer calls on the issue yesterday and members of the Opposition were unavailable.