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Donations come in for Barbados’ vaccine fund

Donations come in for Barbados’ vaccine fund
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. (FILE)

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A national vaccine fund launched last week has already reached just under $7 million in donations.

And Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has thanked the Sandy Lane National Trust for its contribution of $6 million, while announcing Government will have to find about $25 million to purchase the remainder of vaccines needed to satisfy Barbados’ unvaccinated sector population.

Though admitting it is a tough task in these difficult economic times, the Prime Minister has vowed she will get that money.

“We are committed to it because it will protect Barbadians,” the Prime Minister said Monday while also expressing gratitude to other business and individuals who had also come to the country’s aid contributing to vaccines, PPE and other COVID-related needs.

But she advised raising the additional money must be a “whole of nation approach”, as the $25 million would mean additional expenditure for Barbados.

“Whether persons choose to donate or not it is a matter for them. But this Government will spend the money to save people’s lives and to protect Barbadians in the country,” Mottley said.

India gifted Barbados 100 000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which Mottley told the House of Assembly had enabled 62 000 Barbadians to be vaccinated to date. The island is also awaiting receipt of vaccines allocated through the COVAX facility for which Barbados will have to pay. But Mottley said like other developing countries, Barbados faced the challenge of inequitable access to vaccines in a situation in which small nations were “being left to the ravages of the market”.

“If we do not make sure that there is equitable access to vaccines there will be continued new strains and the continued new strains anywhere put all of us everywhere at risk ultimately,” she said, while likening the environment for the procurement of vaccines, PPE and ventilators to “the wild, wild west”.

Pointing out the way developed countries had monopolised vaccine supplies, the Prime Minister said countries like Barbados were left to settle for donations or to go through “middle men” who charged higher prices.

“You would end up paying an average $24 to $25 US a dose for AstraZeneca in circumstances where those developed countries would get it at a fraction of the cost,” Mottley pointed out.

But she insisted she was “not prepared to take a chance with Barbadian lives” and was determined to acquire the needed vaccines. (GC)