The outgoing chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, said Saturday, said that the 15-member regional integration grouping will receive at least 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the African Union later this month.
In addition, Rowley, who hands over the chairmanship of CARICOM to his Antigua and Barbuda counterpart, Gaston Browne on Monday, said that the region will also receive 400,000 doses in August and a further half a million in September.
He said the vaccinations, coupled with existing supplies from other sources, will help the region move towards herd immunity by the end of the year.
“Virtually all of my chairman’s effort in CARICOM was on vaccines for the nations of CARICOM and during this month of July, we are expecting an improvement in the forecast we had made, because initially, I had told you the vaccines we were going to get from the African purchase would have been coming here towards the end of August.
“I have had a significant conversation with President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa where the vaccine is being produced and he has given me the commitment that whatever Africa produces, CARICOM will get a portion of it,” Rowley said.
He told reporters that subsequent meetings with officials of that program “as late as yesterday, I have had confirmation that that situation is very positive at the moment and the first shipment to CARICOM would not be in August, but in July.
“ So towards the middle of July we expect to get out the first shipment, CARICOM approximately 800,000 doses and of that 800,000, Trinidad and Tobago is expected to get around 200,000 of it,” said Rowley, who told reporters that a planned shipment of vaccines under the COVAX facility that was due on July 14, has again been delayed and now expected here in August.
Rowley said regarding the promised shipment of vaccines from the United States for the region, following conversations “we have had with all the authorities there that have progressed considerably, but it has not changed since I spoke with you last.
“When I spoke to you last, I said decisions were made, documentations were signed, so far the order to relapse the vaccines from that source has not yet come. There have been one or two little hiccups there which we are hoping…will disappear and that the order for the release of the vaccines will come to us from the United States (and) that’s another line of vaccines.”
He said Trinidad and Tobago and CARICOM continue to look at the market “to see whether vaccines are available for purchase”.