The Government, through Cabinet, has agreed to begin exploring Jamaica’s access to safe vaccines, outside of the COVAX facility.
Additionally, agreement has been reached to explore bilateral arrangements with countries that have indicated their willingness to partner with Jamaica to ensure the safe vaccination of the population.
“The Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, will begin the process of exploring how we can leverage our international engagements to secure additional supply access for safe vaccines,” Dr. Tufton said.
He noted that the Government will now enter bilateral meetings with States, to include India, China and Cuba, to ascertain their level of support and to determine the best arrangement for acquisition and distribution of safe vaccines to the population.
“It must be understood that the Ministry of Health and Wellness will maintain its very rigorous process of review for all medical supplies that are administered within our jurisdiction,” Dr. Tufton said.
“Therefore, the Standards and Regulations Division of the Ministry, in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), will be maintaining the requirements for the emergency use authorisation for these vaccines,” he added.
For the granting of emergency use authorisation, the vaccine must meet one of the following criteria – be included in the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19); or be granted authorisation for emergency use for prevention of COVID-19 by one of the following stringent national regulatory authorities (SNRA) of reference – the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada, or the European Medicines Agency.
“The vaccine can only be used for the period of authorisation,” Dr. Tufton pointed out.
The Jamaican Government, as have many developing countries, joined the COVAX Facility as part of its strategic approach to access safe vaccines.
Through the Facility, Jamaica has been able to negotiate vaccine dosages price of US$10.55, reduced from the going average price of US$35.00. This price is negotiated for 16 per cent of the population and represents Phase 1 of Jamaica’s vaccination rollout plan.
“I can announce, that further to my update in November, the Ministry has been advised by the COVAX Facility that the first batch of vaccines that are due in April 2021, has been increased from an original one per cent, to five per cent. This represents a total of approximately 292,000 doses, enough to vaccinate approximately 146,000 Jamaicans,” Dr. Tufton informed.
He said that within this first phase of the programme, priority will be given to the following groups of individuals – healthcare personnel; elderly 60 years and older; Jamaica Defence Force; Jamaica Constabulary Force; Jamaica Fire Brigade; Department of Correctional Services; Passport, Immigration & Citizenship Agency; infirmaries; Members of Parliament, Senators, Parish Council representatives and other senior members of the State; residents and staff of nursing homes; and institutionalised individuals (persons in the penal institutions).
Dr. Tufton informed the Lower House that this represents approximately 440,000 persons.
“The vaccination of the elderly and front-line workers who are most at risk is crucial to the overall efficacy of the programme. Through vaccination of the elderly, we will immediately cauterise the number of persons who have negative outcomes due to an infection of COVID-19, and by vaccinating our front-line workers, greater levels of service delivery can be realised through the reduction of their risk profile based on infection,” he said.
As at January 9, 2021, there are 43 vaccines that are being developed right across the world that are in phase-one trials. Twenty are in phase two and another 20 are in phase-three trials. Seven vaccines are in early or limited use in countries and three are fully approved for use.
The three that are approved are Pfizer-BinTech, with development in the United States and Germany; Moderna, with development in the United States; and Oxford-Astrazeneca, with development in the United Kingdom and Sweden.