In less than a week, the Government has sought to mend bridges with the India High Commissioner and business sector on the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines, as it has come to the realisation unnecessary battles will just not cut it at a time that requires an all hands on deck approach.
With no clear-cut plan or the arrival date of vaccines in this country, the real and imminent danger posed by COVID-19 remains. This was all the clearer yesterday when the death count from the virus rose by one to 141. The last death was recorded on March 8.
There is no doubt that unless and until a proper vaccination rollout begins, this country remains at the mercy of a virus that knows no bounds.
So, it is heartening to see that we have mended bridges with the High Commissioner, who can use his influence in Delhi to help this country get some vaccines. Whatever we get will be far more than we currently have, bearing in mind that all we have received thus far are the 2,000 doses gifted from the government of Barbados.
It was also heartening to hear the Health Minister commit to engaging the private sector in the search for vaccines for Trinidad and Tobago.
Last Thursday, the Prime Minister attempted to engage the public on the Government’s rejection of a business group’s approach to assist in acquiring vaccines. However, does the Prime Minister really think the citizens care who gets the vaccines at this stage? For the average citizen, it does not matter how the vaccines get here. All they want is that this country joins our CARICOM neighbours on the list of countries approaching herd immunity status. Citizens are not interested in gamesmanship.
There is anxiety among the population and all they want to do is to get back to a sense of normalcy. They want to know there is a tangible plan to get vaccines. They want to know the economy will be reopened, schools will return to in-person teaching and the return to full productivity in workplaces. They want to know there will be a carnival next year and that the borders will be reopened. They want their lives back from the year that COVID stole from them. It is not too much to ask or to hope for.
It is commendable, therefore, to hear we seem to be moving in the right direction. In the words of Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, “I am pleased to say that Mr Anthony Sabga III of Ansa and Mr Rajiv Diptee of SATT (Supermarkets Association of T&T) and myself have decided to be forward-looking. In this vein, we will be working together to procure safe WHO-approved vaccines for T&T if available to the private sector. We assure the public that if and when there is a viable outcome, we will alert the public.” Solace indeed for a country so desperately waiting for their dose of hope.