Faced with persistent insinuations from Opposition Members in Parliament yesterday that he got a Pfizer jab from the 80 vials sent from the US, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley went on the offensive and suggested that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had contracted Covid-19 at some stage.
When asked by Caroni Central MP Arnold Ram if he was a recipient of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Prime Minister said he wished the Opposition would stop attempting to mislead the country with blatant lies.
“Unlike the other leader in this House, I told the country when I was diagnosed as a Covid-positive patient. I told the country when I was in isolation. I told the country when I can be vaccinated. The Minister of Health told the country the date on which I can be vaccinated.
“So to come here today and ask me if I took a vaccine from the 400 (doses), you are just a mischief-maker. Go and find out from your leader when she took it and when she got Covid,” the Prime Minister thundered.
Charles said all the Opposition was asking was the simple question: “Yes or no? Did you receive the Pfizer vaccine?” The Prime Minister shot back: “Madam Speaker, I will not dignify the Member for Naparima’s out-of-place question with an answer. You are a stranger to the truth.”
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, via media release, later dismissed the Prime Minister’s allegation as a “lie”.
“Keith Rowley today again lied to the country under parliamentary privilege when asked the serious question of whether or not he was vaccinated from the supply of Pfizer vaccines that entered the country secretly,” she said.
The vaccine issue dominated the Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday, and at times there were fiery exchanges between the Prime Minister and the various questioners.
The Prime Minister refused to identify which group within National Security received the Pfizer vaccines when asked the question by Ram.
“They have been used by members of the National Security department. I am not prepared to identify individuals who have received particular vaccines,” he said.
He reiterated the vaccines were offered to “the National Security department for use by the National Security department, and it has so been used under the guidance of the Ministry of Health”.
Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal asked whether in light of the “suspicious nature” of the importation of the vaccines, the Prime Minister would provide the House with the list of people who received them at a later stage.
The PM said he would ask the Ministry of Health whether they were prepared to make patients’ records available.
The Prime Minister however insisted there was no suspicious nature (to the importation) “other than the suspicion that you try to create”.
Asked by Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh whether he would provide the list of names of people “within the national security intelligence network” who received the vaccines, the Prime Minister said if it is a matter of national security, he would not.
Sending the wrong impression
Asked whether his Government was prepared to have an independent commission of enquiry into his Government’s management of Covid, the PM responded:
“I am sure that at the end of the day, if the Opposition continues doing what they are doing now, an enquiry would be required. But in the meantime, the Government would not be distracted by demands of that nature, which are meant to distract us and disturb what we are doing and to send the wrong impression. We will continue to look after the interest and the health of the people of Trinidad and Tobago as our colleagues try to undermine it.”
Moonilal asked whether the Prime Minister was waiting for another thousand people to die before an enquiry is conducted into the deaths of Covid victims in public health institutions.
The Prime Minister rejoined: “I am not the one who told them not to take the vaccine because they are guinea pigs.” It was a reference to statements made by Moonilal about the Sinopharm vaccine.
Charles asked whether the Prime Minister was saying the Government would hold no one accountable for the mismanagement of the vaccine acquisition which had left the population “exposed”, and the PM shot back: “Madam Speaker, if the member believes that by not using hydroquinone, ivermectin, and puncheon and rum is a mismanagement of Covid-19, then so be it.
“If the member believes that by not using sunshine and telling people not to take the vaccine that that is mismanagement, then we could do that. As far as we are concerned in T&T, we are managing this situation as best we can and the population does not share the view of the Member for Naparima.”