$5 billion allocated for 3 million doses of COVID vaccinesFriday, February 19, 2021
BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
The Government has allocated $5 billion for the procurement of more than three million doses of COVID-19 vaccines that, it expects, will significantly improve the country's immunisation programme.
This will take the country well over the initial 16 per cent of the population that the Ministry of Health and Wellness had initially projected would vaccinated against the novel coronavirus this year.
“We're in a position now, based on the budget, to say that we have the resources to secure vaccines for some two million Jamaicans,” Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton announced at a virtual COVID Conversation news conference yesterday evening.
The announcement comes after the tabling of the 2021/2022 estimates of expenditure by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke in Parliament yesterday afternoon.
Minister Tufton said the Government had shifted from deliberating over whether the country had enough funds to purchase adequate supplies of the vaccine, to now securing the actual vaccines.
“The discussions that are taking place now are around how do we secure the stocks of vaccines, not whether or not we can afford it. We have locked those funds and therefore it really now is a function of whether we can get it,” he said.
“We can buy up to 3.5 million doses, five billion Jamaican dollars, two million Jamaicans, and that's a commitment that the Government is making to the populace as part of the COVID response,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Government continues negotiations with Moderna, as well as the African Medical Supplies Platform through Caricom for the securing of vaccines.
Dr Tufton also announced a commitment from the Indian Government to donate 50,000 doses of the COVAXIN vaccine to Jamaica, while another 50,000 doses are expected to be procured by the private sector in partnership with the health ministry.
He further stated that the Government's deployment and vaccination plan will be largely hinged on whether they can secure supplies.
“The 3.5 million doses that we are hoping will be procured, which would mean some two million Jamaicans would be able to get the vaccine this year, has to be a function of the availability of the stocks.
“In addition to that, remember that our commitment is to secure vaccines that are safe and [which] go through the process and that is how we have operated to date,” said Dr Tufton.
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