Prime Minister Gaston Browne said Antigua and Barbuda has the facilities to store the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine that must be stored at the very low temperature of -70C.
“We have the capacity to store at least 30,000 Pfizer vaccines here. We do have refrigeration that can provide that level of storage on island”, Browne said during his weekend radio program on Pointe Fm.
“The issue is about accessing the vaccines. If we get them, if we can purchase them, we can get 30,000 of them here and we have the capacity to store them”, he said.
“The issue of cost cannot be a consideration at this point. It is about getting the vaccine as soon as possible to immunize our population in order to protect our people from the debilitating illnesses associated with COVID and possible death.”
The Prime Minister said experts “reckoned that COVID-19 will become endemic. In other words, it’s not going to leave us anytime soon. It’s going to be around maybe for decades.”
He said by then it may not be as menacing since many people will be vaccinated causing a considerable slowdown in the transmission of the virus.
He, nonetheless, cautioned that it “doesn’t mean that people will not contract COVID in the future and potentially could die from COVID.”
“So, considering that COVID will become endemic, it is important as many of people become vaccinated as soon as possible”, he advised.
The Prime Minister also said it is “not inconceivable that the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, that they would make it a requirement for people who will travel to their countries in the future that they will have to provide evidence of being vaccinated.”
“As you can see, they have now introduced this policy in which you have to provide some evidence that you have tested negative for COVID before you can enter the country and it is probable that they may up the ante sometime in the future. So, there are implications for not being vaccinated; health implications and even social and economic consequences”, he added.
The Prime Minister said the country will “pursue a public education programme and those of us who have influence within the society that we should be among the first to take the vaccine. I have indicated I’m willing to be the first in order to encourage others to feel comfortable to understand the science is proven and tested.”
Over 30,000 people participated in clinical trials for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which have received approval in the UK, US and other countries.
“There are many individuals since who would have had first and second shots and are doing well, there’s no evidence of anyone getting extremely ill or growing new limbs as some of these anti-vaxxers have been creating fear globally”, Browne said.