The United Kingdom has guaranteed to procure COVID-19 vaccines for the British Virgin Islands and other Overseas Territories (OTs).
A media release from the Ministry of Health said the UK Minister for Overseas Territories, Baroness Elizabeth Sugg wrote to all the leaders of the OTs earlier this week to confirm the offer.
Governor Augustus Jaspert said discussions will be had between the UK and the BVI to ensure that all parties receive a share based on the nature of the vaccine procured and its availability.
“I am pleased that the UK has made this commitment and although the exact details have yet to be worked out depending on the vaccine procured, it is a clear signal of the UK and BVI’s special partnership. Our health services and public officials have been doing a fantastic job to fight COVID-19 and I hope this promise of support from the UK will be an extra boost to help defeat the virus,” Governor Jaspert stated.
Not all will be welcoming vaccine
The release also said Premier Andrew Fahie had thanked the UK and its agencies for their COVID-19 support to the territory in a letter addressed to Baroness Sugg on October 27.
He also noted that not all persons in the territory will be willing to accept the vaccine, which should be respected.
“We must bear in mind that there are persons in our society who, for religious or other beliefs, do not subscribe to the taking of vaccines, and we do have to be respectful of that when the time comes. Notwithstanding this, the people of the Virgin Islands would be grateful and happy to receive supplies of the vaccine when it becomes available, for which I thank the UK Government in advance,” he said.
Special storage facility specs needed
Premier Fahie also requested for information that will allow the BVI to adequately prepare a proper storage facility for the vaccine, ahead of its arrival.
“I note from your letter that one of the potential vaccines would require special storage. I would like the BVI to be in a state of preparedness to receive the vaccines when they become available. I would be grateful to know the specifications of the recommended storage facilities so my government can begin looking at where we can locate the facility and what resources we would need to put this in place,” Fahie explained.
Since January, the UK has provided more than $1.4 million worth of medical equipment which has enabled the territory’s medical professionals to respond to the virus while building the long-term capacity of local health services.
These medical equipment include testing kits, ventilators, protective gear, laboratory supplies, mobile isolation units and a new testing machine that has given BVI the capability to run real-time PCR tests for the first time.
Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.