The Cabinet met for more than seven continuous hours, six members using virtual means and seven meeting face-to-face. The Cabinet, as is customary, invited experts and officials to its weekly meeting in order to assist in enhancing decision-making.
- The Cabinet invited seven experts from the Ministry of Health including the Chief Medical Officer, the Principal Nursing Officer, the Chief Health Inspector, the Ministry’s Technology Officer, and three members of the Technical Committee responsible for communicating new information to the public. The CMO shared the plan for vaccinating approximately 80,000 adults in 35 days. Five teams, each consisting of five staff and nurses, will be dispatched to several centers each day of the week (Saturday and Sunday also) during March and the first week of April 2021, to inoculate as many as 250 to 550 people each, daily for a period of 35 days (5 X 500=2,500 X 35=87,500). Two days will be dedicated to Barbuda in order to vaccinate approximately 1,000 adults living there. This approach will allow the Ministry to achieve herd immunity in the state; that accomplishment will in turn make Antigua and Barbuda very safe, though the Covid-19 protocols will continue to apply. It is anticipated that the 40,000 vials of vaccine will be capable of vaccinating 40,000 men and women. The medicines will arrive Antigua this weekend. Another 100,000 vials will be required within two months in order to provide the second inoculation which will bring 100% efficacy to the population of recipients of the vaccine. The Serum Institute of India will likely provide 100,000 vials as requested.
Other officials provided Cabinet with their plans for pre-registering those members of the population who qualify and who volunteer to be vaccinated:
a) by way of a call center, the operators will take biographical information, other details and addresses from those who wish to pre-register—(Telephone Numbers to pre-register include: 736 8295, 736 8298, 736 8299, 788 8299). 326 registered by telephone between 9:000 am and 3:00 pm today; that process will continue each workday, Mondays to Fridays only.
b) by those persons who utilize the website and email address (vaccineantiguabarbuda.com) established to pre-register, on account of the availability of a computer at home or at work;
c) by those who show up at the Vaccination Centers without having been pre-registered; they will be required to share the same biographical and other information and addresses with the registration officers.
The Chief Health Inspector noted that in the post-vaccination period, the Covid-19 protocols will continue to apply: Hand washing, social distancing, and the wearing of masks.
a) The Chief Health Inspector confirmed that all curfew times remain the same and that, except for certain essential workers, 6:00 pm to 5:00 am remain in effect until March 15, 2021.
b) Bars and places of entertainment remain closed. Restaurants are take-out and delivery only.
c) The ability of firms to decontaminate buildings is to be certified by the Central Board of Health working with the Director of Analytics/Dunbars Laboratory. The use of acceptable chemical compounds is to be determined by the Laboratory.
2. The Cabinet next invited the Laboratory Director at the MSJMC and the Chief Medical Officer to address the regulatory approvals which the Pharmacy Council is to provide by law, before the many vaccines can be imported into Antigua and Barbuda.
The Director explained the process by which approval is granted. The members of Council collect data and peer-review papers that address the safety and efficacy of each of the vaccines which Antigua and Barbuda would wish to import. Upon completion of the assessment by the Pharmacy Council, and its members are satisfied that the vaccines are safe and efficacious, the Council will then give its approval for importation into Antigua and Barbuda by way of a certificate.
The Council has given its approval for the AstraZenica Vaccine to be imported into Antigua and Barbuda by way of an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization); that approval allowed the vaccine to be used here.
iii. The Cabinet now seeks to import the five other vaccines that are widely used or in the final stage of development: a) The Pfizer; b) The Moderna; c) The SputnikV; d) The Sinopharm: e) The Soberana2. That announcement was made last week following Cabinet, and the Council members have been reviewing the data. A decision may likely be made next week, if the Council’s findings are positive. Guyana has approved the use of the Sinopharm and the SputnikV.
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- The Cabinet gave its full approval to the Minister of Information to digitize the paper files of the Development Control Authority (DCA). Several government agencies and authorities have already had their records digitized, and the improved system has led to service to the public. The process is continuing.
- The Cabinet welcomed three representatives from a private firm which seeks to bring a US$1,100,000,000 investment in a project that will export its product while producing its substance for use in Antigua and Barbuda. It will employ more than 500 employees. Cabinet has asked the investor to provide additional information before it can give tentative approval, although both an MOU and MOA have been signed.
- The Coolidge Cricket Ground has been certified as an International Cricket Site. The Ground is jointly owned by CWI and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. The Gaston Browne administration was roundly criticized for investing in this venture. Several of the regional and international games will be played at the Ground and it will also be used as a training Ground for visiting teams. The Cabinet applauded the Minister of Sports.
- The Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) is to be kept manicured and in perfect shape even as the Double Decker stand is dismantled. A recent video making the rounds confirms that the lessor of the Grounds has failed to abide by the terms of the lease governing.
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