HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has extended condolences to the family of late calypsonian and Covid-19 “vaccine ambassador”, Kenwrick “Kenny J” Joseph, who succumbed to the virus at the weekend.
The minister noted yesterday, however, that vaccination does not necessarily prevent infection and that the outcome is also dependent on a person’s health. Those with comorbidities, including non-communicable diseases (NCDs), face an increased likelihood of more severe illness or death from Covid-19, he noted again.
Vaccination also does not entirely eliminate the risk of a fatal outcome in an infected person, he said at yesterday’s virtual Covid-19 news conference.
“Deepest condolences to Kenny’s family, but the promise of vaccination is to significantly reduce your chances of dying from Covid-19. It will not eliminate or bring it down to near zero,” Deyalsingh stated when asked to address the fact that Kenny J had recently re-entered the spotlight by appearing in Government advertisements encouraging vaccination against Covid-19.
The 69-year-old artiste was best-known for his soca parang classic “De Paint Brush”. Kenny J died at the Augustus Long Hospital in Pointe-a-Pierre on Sunday, where he was being treated for Covid-19. He was fully vaccinated.
“The promise of vaccinations, as we said from day one and globally, is that you have to take the issue of vaccination in the context of what the person’s overall health status is, what comorbidities they have,” Deyalsingh said, adding that “the promises of vaccinations are threefold”.
Vaccines firstly “significantly reduce your chance of contracting Covid,” Deyalsingh said, adding, “no one has ever said it eliminates the chance.”
“Two, it significantly reduces your chances of needing advanced care. It does not eliminate it. And three, as we have always said, it reduces your chances of dying from Covid. That was always the promise of vaccinations around the world,” he said.
Referring to the new dashboard look for 2022 which focuses on vaccination status, Deyalsingh said the number of vaccinated persons who died was significantly smaller than the number of unvaccinated persons who passed away.
He maintained that data continues to show vaccinated people as being significantly less likely to require hospitalisation or succumb to the virus.
Deyalsingh said the Government hoped to see a continued upward trend at vaccination sites, where “we are averaging now, since last week, 1,400, 1,500, 1,600 per day...figures we have not seen since the middle of October”.
He added that while this was a good sign, “We could do a lot better.”
The minister was also asked for an update on a declaration from the Police Social and Welfare Association, that officers not be mandated to disclose their Covid-19 vaccination status.
Deyalsingh said the issue was one to be addressed by the Ministry of National Security.
‘It’s a shocker’
Meanwhile, Mt Lambert-based arranger Leston Paul said yesterday Kenny J’s death was “a shocker”. “Sad. I can’t believe Kenny J is gone. He was a decent gentleman. Talented. Humorous. He would take a simple word and make a big joke. He could call out of the blue and ask how I was doing. He wanted to know how we could improve the art form. How we could go forward?
“It is a tremendous loss. People have been calling my phone all day. People from all over the world. Julian Williams. Rawlston Charles. They can’t believe Kenny J has died. We have lost an icon. A gentle giant gone too soon,” he said.