dr. avery hinds

Dr Avery Hinds, Technical Director, Epidemiology Division, Ministry of Health.

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds declared on Wednesday that there’s no scientific justification or any other justification for the Government to shut down safe zones.

Hinds was responding a question about the call by the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) for safe zones to be closed as they’re contribution to the increase in spread of the Covid-19 virus.

“There is no logical or scientific basis on which to make the claim that the measures to reduce risk during public interaction, would be conversely increasing the risk of transmission. What you would see is if the measures aren’t adhered to, if people trying to find loopholes to escape the various requirements, that that would increase the risk. But we’re going to hope that those aren’t in the majority, and to re-emphasise that all of the requirements for the operation of a safe zone, are basically added layers of protection to reduce the risk of an infected individual being in a gathering space in the public, while trying to allow for some measure of economic activity and social activity in the midst of the pandemic.”

He noted that any restrictions or requirements that are put in place to reduce the risk of Covid-positive individuals interacting cannot lead to an increase, so the science behind that doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

Adding his voice to the conversation at Wednesday’s virtual Covid-19 press conference, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the safe zone initiative is a matter of risk and reward.

“I would think as a country we’re happy that people are being employed in safe zones. I think as a country we’re happy that we are finding ways to live with the virus, to coexist with the virus.

“I was taken aback by that call because who’s going to pay the rent, who’s going to put food on the table if we take that call to shut down safe zones. So, it’s a matter of risk and reward, and at this point in time the reward of having people employed in a safe environment far outweighs whatever risk there are.”

The Health Minister was also asked to comment on whether the claims made by three young people that they suffered adverse effect following their first dose last year were legitimate, or a subtle way of promoting a no-vaccine agenda.

The claims were made by relatives of Farisha Ballantine, 19, Kail Paul, 16, along with 26-year-old Alisha Seebaran, during a press conference hosted by NATUC yesterday.

“First of all, if it is genuine we express our concerns but we have no way of knowing because no medical evidence was put forward. There was no doctor certificate, there was no medical evidence put forward, and that is complicating the conversation unfortunately.”

He said he’s hoping that the unconfirmed reports of causation were similar to the causation attempted to be made with two early deaths, a gentleman from Princes Town and Franklin Khan, trying to unfortunately link their deaths to the vaccine which led to them being mentioned in an MFO report as leading to vaccine hesitancy.

“What we would appreciate is the medical evidence that demonstrate or that make a causal link.”

He noted that just because two things happen close to each other, which is correlation, does not necessarily mean causation.

“We do have at the Ministry of Health, and had have for decades, a reporting system to report adverse events brought about by vaccination and immunisation, it is not new. What is new is the public interest in it for which I’m happy about.

“There are three pathways to which we trace these events. Part 1 is something called ESAVI (Events Supposedly Attributable to Vaccines or Immunisation). We also have another pathway, this is coincidental events and adverse events of special interest, AESI.”

Deyalsingh stated that if a patient comes down with any adverse event, the private sector pathway kicks in where private doctors over the years report it to the County Medical Officer of Health.

“Those reports then go to Dr Hinds’ unit, National Surveillance Unit, and it is copied to the Expanded Programme of Immunisation. They also go to the Chief Medical Officer and PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation).”

The Health Minister said if what is being manifested by the patient is an unusual adverse event not listed in the literature that is put out, it will also be reported to the manufacturer.

“In the public sector, if you go to an A&E (Accident and Emergency) or a clinic, it will be reported in the same fashion through the Community Liaison Unit, the Public Health Observatory, it goes to Dr Hinds’ unit and so on.

“So there are clear pathways for any patient who suffers an adverse event or an unusual adverse event that the doctors and nurses in both the public sector and private sector can send these reports and they will be treated with.

“So what is interesting is that…I’m not doubting the veracity that something may have happened, but in the absence of a medical certificate stating what has happened, it is difficult to make a determination,” Deyalsingh said.

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