Paula Lindo

18 Hrs AgoDr Roodal Moonilal Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal is calling on government to disclose how much was paid for the Sinopharm vaccines which are due to arrive in the country next week, as well as the 800,000 Johnson and Johnson vaccines which the Prime Minister announced would arrive in August.

On Saturday, the Prime Minister announced that Trinidad and Tobago has ordered 800,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the Africa Medical Supplies Platform and expects to receive the first shipment in August. He said another shipment of over 100,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines from China is expected to arrive by Thursday.

Speaking at the Opposition’s weekly virtual media conference on Sunday, Moonilal said no mention had been made of the cost of the vaccines.

“We heard that we paid down, but we haven’t heard the cost of these vaccines, and let us say the cost per jab/dose of these vaccines so the taxpayer could understand where the money is going, how much is being used for this, as opposed to how much is being used for what MP Tancoo described as a corrupt system of procuring some types of assistance from a select few in the farming system.”

He said the Prime Minister has begun a new narrative to seek to explain to people that good times are ahead.

“We now have the promise of the US, 800,000 one-shot vaccines, if that does materialise, we welcome that, we thank the US, president (Joe) Biden, the people of the US for once again rescuing TT, from the PNM and Keith Rowley.

“We want to thank them for rescuing us, assuming that (it) materialises because we are never sure. It’s very clear that notwithstanding the health protocols, and the importance of the protocols, that it is vaccination and herd immunity that will save countries like TT and elsewhere from the calamity we face today.”

On May 11, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said TT was able to aquire its Astra Zeneca vaccines through Covax at about US$5 per shot. He said he was trying to beat down the US$15 cost of the Sinopharm vaccine, which had just been approved by the World Health Organisation. said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is priced at US$10.

Moonilal also took issue with the presentations by the Health Ministry at Saturday’s media conference.

“I found it to be extremely obscene, callous, insensitive that the Ministry of Health has now embarked on what could be called a graph attack. They are now grafting their way through this crisis and the Health Minister and the Prime Minister must take responsibility. I am not here this morning to attack any particular public officer, public official, health professional and so on, but these press conferences are politically motivated.

“In the context of where we’ve had 564 deaths as of yesterday and for the Ministry of Health to tell this country that 564 people have died from covid19, and to put it in context for the month of May we had 326 deaths in May and an average 0f 422 cases per day, for the Ministry to be grafting their way through, to tell a population that is under so much distress and strain, that it could have been worse, it could have been 100 a day, so please accept that, don’t accept our sympathy or our compassion, it is callous, insensitive and obscene, and the Ministry should cease and desist from that type of narrative. It deserves the strongest level of condemnation.”

He asked what the death toll would have been if certain measures had been taken earlier in the pandemic.

“I notice that Dr Hinds or none of the health professionals there gave us a graph that could tell us if we had administered 351,000 doses of the vaccine in February when they were available through the private sector, how much would have been the death toll today? How much? Would it have been 50 per cent less, 75 per cent less? Why don’t you do a graph and tell us, if the government had closed the border properly on the southwest peninsula, if they had procured vaccines in a timely manner when they were getting help from the private sector, what would have been the death toll and the infection rate today?”

Moonilal said government should be giving out 15,000 vaccines a day instead of the 2,000 proposed by the Health Minister.

The Prime Minister and the Health Minister have stated on multiple occasions that there are no vaccines available for purchase on the open market.