The 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines which were procured by the United Kingdom have finally arrived in the British Virgin Islands.
It arrived at the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport today Thursday, February 4.
Governor John Rankin along with Premier Andrew Fahie, Health Minister Carvin Malone, Transportation Minister Kye Rymer and Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronald Georges, were all part of the delegation at the airport to receive the vaccine cargo.
Speaking on the arrival of the vaccine, Governor Rankin said he was delighted the vaccine had finally arrived as he believes it will be “a real game-changer”.
“It is a very effective vaccine, it’s a safe vaccine, it protects people against the virus and the evidence also shows that it protects people from transmitting it to others. So I believe I have an effective vaccine roll out to as many people as possible receiving the vaccine, it can help our frontline workers, it can help our older population, it can help the tourism and the economy get back on its feet,” Rankin said.
“It’s a real sign of a big partnership and I certainly want to work with the Premier, the minister and the health officials in making sure that this is an effective roll-out,” he added.
Good sign of UK-BVI partnership
Premier Fahie also shared similar sentiments to the Governor, adding that the 8,000 units from the UK is a good sign of the UK-BVI partnership and adds to work that the territory commenced since March 2020.
“This also helps complement what our health team have been doing for the last few months and what millions we have spent in our territory on the people of the Virgin Islands, trying to make sure that we combat and contain COVID-19 as it is good for our tourism product, good for our health overall and our people,” the Premier stated.
12,000 more vaccines to arrive in coming weeks
He added that the territory will be receiving at least 12,000 more units of the vaccines in the coming weeks.
“With this 8,000 units now from the UK and the 12,000 units we have purchased and have already signed for last year in being proactive before we knew about this, [we’ll have a total of] 20,000 units upfront. The other 12,000 units will probably be here in late February or early March and then more units would be coming from the UK in increments of 8,000 units,” Fahie explained.
Vaccines storage provided through public-private partnership
In the meantime, Health Minister Malone said the vaccines will be safely transported from the airport to a secured storage facility which is being provided through a public-private partnership between local organisations and the BVI government.
He said; “RoadTown Wholesale has basically for a very small fee donated the space with the help of the combined Rotary family. They were able to purchase the refrigeration, pay for the space for up to a year and they have invested over $13,500 with us.”
According to Malone, once the distribution logistics have been completed, the administering of the vaccines will commence and will be distributed at nine or 10 distribution sites.
The minister said the location of those sites will be announced shortly.
So far, Governor Rankin and Minister Malone have publicly stated they will take the vaccine.
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