Fire Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is being called upon to do this by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar following Deyalsingh’s erroneous statement on the origin of the 2,000 vaccines received by this country.
In response to Persad-Bissessar, Rowley has defended Deyalsingh , stating that Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley had informed him (Rowley) of the vaccine gift and not Deyalsingh.
Persad-Bissessar issued a media release yesterday calling on Rowley to fire Deyalsingh saying he is incompetent and unfit for his job if the country is to believe he did not know where the 2,000 vaccines received by Trinidad and Tobago came from.
Noting that Deyalsingh claimed the vaccines were a gift from the Government of India, which used Barbados as a conduit for vaccine donations across the Caribbean, she said:
“This has proven to be a flat out lie. The truth is Barbados generously gifted Trinidad and Tobago a portion of vaccines from their own stock. That Trinidad and Tobago has had to rely on vaccine donations from Barbados is a damning indictment on the Government,” she added.
“If we are to believe the Minister of Health that he did not know the source of the vaccines his own Ministry administered to front line workers, he is clearly incompetent and unfit for his job. It perhaps also explains the shambolic manner in which the Keith Rowley regime has bungled the response to the Covid -19 pandemic,” stated Persad-Bissessar.
She also criticised Trinidad and Tobago’s slow pace in procuring vaccines and questioned why the Rowley Government had not approached the Indian Government for vaccines.
“While the rest of the world is moving ahead with speedy vaccine programmes, T&T has yet to fully test the majority of our population for Covid-19. It is also unclear just how and when T&T can expect to be fully vaccinated. At the current rate, T&T will be the last country in the world to be fully vaccinated,” stated Persad-Bissessar.
“It is also beyond puzzling why the Rowley regime has not approached the Government of India for a supply of vaccines as did the Government of Barbados,” she added.
Persad-Bissessar stated that given that the Covid -19 pandemic is the most serious health crisis we are facing, “the public can have no trust in the Government’s response as long as Terrence Deyalsingh remains in his post. He must go now.”
The Prime Minister issued a release in response, stating that Mottley had informed him and not Deyalsingh of the vaccine gift.
“This is pure mischief and the usual disruptive behaviour of a deranged Opposition Leader struggling for relevance,” stated Rowley.
He said all Caricom countries are busily engaged in positioning themselves to obtain vaccines from a turbulent pandemic market environment, “we in Trinidad and Tobago are careful to obtain and accept vaccines ONLY from sources which have WHO approval and certification. This is for the protection of our population.
“It was in this situation of constant regional communication that Prime Minister Mottley of Barbados indicated to me (not the Minister of Health) that Barbados was offered 50,000 doses of a vaccine from India and that she was making a gift gesture of 2,000 of these doses available to Trinidad and Tobago for “essential persons” (including PM and Cabinet),” he added.
Barbados received 100,00 AstraZeneca vaccines from India which will benefit 50,000 people as two doses are administered to each person.
Rowley stated he accepted the offer knowing that not all suppliers of these products from India had received WHO clearance.
“I anticipated and it did come to pass that by the time we got the items and waited a while, the WHO only recently certified the source supplier in India and thus we were able to use these vaccines, not on the Cabinet, but on our frontline health care givers,” stated Rowley.
He added this country’s national programme remains on track.
“Monies have been paid, local preparations have been made, orders and negotiations outside of the COVAX supply are currently underway and we are close to receiving and using our anticipated supply,” he stated.
Rowley noted that vaccines are currently said to be available from many sources around the world, not all of which carry the quality assurance stamp of the WHO.
He stated it is up to individual Governments to determine how they treat with the various sources and supply chains.
“In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, in protection of our citizens, we will maintain our policy of working within the COVAX, WHO and PAHO and expect to receive our safe quotas from myriad sources as soon as they become available,” stated Rowley.