British vaccination donation to spark seven-day blitzThursday, July 29, 2021
BY ARTHUR HALL
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is to launch an islandwide COVID-19 vaccination blitz on Saturday after Jamaica receives 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine tomorrow.
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton yesterday told the Jamaica Observer that the blitz will last for seven days, following news that the vaccine donated by the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) is now set to reach the island and boost the inoculation drive.
After confirmation of the arrival date and time for the vaccine yesterday, the UK's top diplomat in Jamaica, Asif Ahmad, declared, “This is Global Britain in action.”
According to Ahmad, the UK plans to donate a further batch of vaccines to Jamaica in December.
“I have worked closely with the team in London to expedite the delivery of vaccines to Jamaica. Prime Minister Andrew Holness gave me clear assurances that Jamaica is ready to deploy the vaccines at a fast pace,” Ahmad told the Observer.
“For me, saving lives is the biggest contribution a public servant can make,” added Ahmad.
He said that the delay in the UK's commitment to develop and distribute vaccines worldwide was understandable.
“As they say on aeroplanes, we have to put on the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we can help others. We have shown the vaccine works. Our strategy of ordering vaccines before they completed the tests has worked,” added Ahmad.
The outspoken diplomat pointed out that the UK successfully lobbied members of the World Health Organization to create the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) scheme which was established to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
Ahmad pointed out that the AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective against the novel coronavirus, including variants, and it has reduced hospital admissions and fatalities.
“The delivery to Jamaica of 300,000 AstraZeneca vaccines on Friday is one of the first to be shipped out. It comes at a vital time of shortage in Jamaica. It is vital that people come forward and take the vaccine,” Ahmad said.
“Those who choose to ignore the science and accept disinformation from people with bad minds are putting themselves and their elderly friends and relatives at risk of death. Rumours like microchips in the serum, testing on black people, the vaccine containing COVID virus, and extracts from unborn babies are just that — totally false information,” he added.
Yesterday, the UK's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that it was ready to begin delivering nine million COVID-19 vaccines around the world to help tackle the pandemic, with Indonesia, Jamaica, and Kenya among the first countries to benefit.
Raab also announced that the UK was offering five million doses to COVAX to be urgently distributed to lower-income countries via an equitable allocation system which prioritises delivering vaccines to people who most need them.
“Indonesia will receive 600,000 doses, 300,000 will be sent to Jamaica, and 817,000 are to be transported to Kenya, among other countries,” said Raab.
He said this was the first tranche of the 100 million vaccines that Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged the UK would share within the next year at last month's G7 meeting, with 30 million due to be sent by the end of the year.
At least 80 million of the 100 million doses will go to COVAX, with the rest going to countries directly. The donations will help meet the pledge that G7 leaders made to vaccinate the world and end the pandemic in 2022.
“We're doing this to help the most vulnerable, but also because we know we won't be safe until everyone is safe,” said Raab.
The UK has been at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19, including through investing £90 million to support the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Over half-a-billion doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been delivered at a non-profit price globally, with two-thirds going to lower- and middle-income countries.
In the meantime, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is a pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect people and prevent the emergence of new variants. We want to make sure developing countries can build a wall of defence against the virus, as we have in the UK through our vaccine roll-out.”
He pointed out that the UK has secured enough doses of the vaccine for all its residents, Crown dependencies, and overseas territories, to support its vaccination and booster programmes.
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