As the country battles the COVID-19 virus, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is reminding the public of another deadly virus making the rounds — H1N1.

Forty-one people in Trinidad and Tobago have died from H1N1 for this year’s flu season thus far, Deyalsingh revealed at yesterday’s daily virtual COVID-19 media briefing.

He said it is especially crucial to be vaccinated against this virus to avoid having to battle two viruses at once.

“Every flu season we beg people to come and get vaccinated, it could save your life. And now as we prepare for the next flu season, because this one is coming to an end, if people don’t get vaccinated against H1N1, you will now be battling two viruses at the same time — H1N1 which can kill you and COVID-19 which can kill you.

“But you can protect yourself against H1N1 with a vaccine, so instead of battling two viruses at the same time and literally ensuring you have a negative outcome, you can significantly improve your chances of surviving these two viruses by becoming vaccinated against one until a vaccine becomes available for the other,” he said.

Deyalsingh said the anti-vaxxer movement continues to be a challenge in convincing people to get vaccinated.

“What hampers us in T&T, and globally, is the anti-vaxxer movement. Those doctors, and we have them in T&T, who get air time to talk and discourage the population from going for the H1N1 vaccine, who tell the country that there is this global discussion about the dangers of H1N1 for pregnant people and children when there is none. Our biggest problem with H1N1 is not administering the vaccine, it is getting people to stop listening to the anti-vaxxers both in Trinidad and globally,” he said.

Also speaking at the media briefing, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said 40,000 vaccines are still available.

On the issue of private labs testing for COVID-19, Parasram said the certification process is on-going.

He said no labs that have applied for certification have been rejected and the Ministry of Health intends to make site visits to the labs this week.

No magic bullet

A team consisting of a medical lab technician and quality control specialists will visit the labs and will submit a report on what types of machines are being used, what types of tests are being done, staffing at the labs and other details.

The reports will then be looked over by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the decisions will be relayed to the labs individually, he said.

Community testing is also continuing, Parasram added, revealing that 182 people have been tested through this initiative thus far.

Deyalsingh also disclosed yesterday that T&T will receive a further 10,000 COVID-19 test kits from China.

China previously donated 4,000 test kits to T&T.

Deyalsingh said the new shipment is already “packed and ready to go” and awaiting clearance.

Currently, he said T&T has more than enough test kits and is in a good place.

On the issue of drug trials, Deyalsingh reiterated that there is no “magic bullet” or “miracle cure” for COVID-19.

He noted that there has been some trials of the antiviral drug Remdesivir, but said this has not been scientifically proven to be effective.

“Remdesivir is being looked at by a committee the Chief Medical Officer set up with The University of the West Indies and they will look at all the so-called magic bullets whether its hydroxychloroquine, which has failed spectacularly, or Interferon which came out a month ago. And we will not unleash onto the population any drug that hasn’t been proven to be either safe or effective,” Deyalsingh said.

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The global battle for vaccines may cause major delays for small nations like Trinidad and Tobago in getting their populations inoculated.

While Government officials are hesitant to admit it, this country’s first shipment under the COVAX arrangement could be in ­trouble, given the worldwide scenario.

“Nothing has changed. We are still waiting for justice.”

This in essence is how residents feel eight months after they were promised action when they protested the police killings of three men as well as other social and economic issues.

In June 2020 when protests erupted in Port of Spain and environs following the police killings of three men in Morvant, the Morvant community and the surrounding areas of Beetham Gardens, Sea Lots, John John and other areas in East Port of Spain found themselves under the national spotlight.

For days, protesters held the country’s attention as they called for justice for Joel Jacob, Noel Diamond and Israel Moses Clinton who were shot and killed by police on June 27.

Protests alone do not bring about lasting change, says Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds.

He, however, noted there has indeed been peace in the communities since the protests.

“Change comes from thinking and planning and changes in behaviours and attitudes and approaches by all stakeholders—Government, NGOs, places of worship, families, communities, individuals, etc. So protests don’t change anything, it is work and action and shifts in attitudes and cultures,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Express yesterday.

“What are they telling me about International Women’s Day when daily women are suffering. I see images of suffering every day. I am not celebrating any International Women’s Day.”

So said self-employed Arima resi­dent Shelly-Ann Arthur last Thursday as the world preps to observe International Women’s Day (IWD) tomorrow.

The Sunday Express interviewed several women on the Brian Lara Promenade last week to get their views on IWD.

There’s an old adage—crime doesn’t pay.

This is however arguable, especially if your legal business profits from the existence and/or attempts to curb crime through bolstering a country’s national security apparatus or arming the citizenry and its law enforcement officers with legal gadgets.