Regional company tried to secure vaccines, but no taxpayer money spent, Bradshaw says
Acting Prime Minister, Santia Bradshaw said a regional company was trying to secure COVID-19 vaccines for Barbados, but she denied any taxpayer money was used in the deal.
Bradshaw was addressing the country on Wednesday, concerning questions raised by opposition parties about a regional company that found itself having to pursue legal action for the non-delivery of COVID-19 vaccines for which it paid and subsequently tried unsuccessfully to procure from a legitimate manufacturer.
The legal filing claimed the company was “deceptively” lured into an “elaborate” U.S. $10.2 million scam for one million “non-existent” doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through a Florida-based company.
“This is a classic and very unfortunate example of the very deleterious environment, which currently exists across the world as small and vulnerable countries try to gain access to life-saving medication,” she said.
Bradshaw said the deal was struck this past February when vaccines were not readily available, and the government was using any means necessary to secure them for Barbados.
“We agreed to facilitate one million vaccines because for those who understand the process they would realise it is not something that you can just say, ‘I want 50, I want 100, I want 2 000’,” she said.
“The way the market is working is that you have to purchase at least a minimum of one million vaccines, and it was our understanding that other countries in the region were also grappling with how they get vaccines as well, so we would have helped to facilitate these other countries as well.”
Bradshaw said the deal falling through contributed to the delays that Barbadians experienced in getting vaccines a few months earlier.
“Fortunately, having entered into good faith dealings with an extra-regional supplier to procure the vaccines for Barbados, the regional private sector company, Radical Investments Ltd has been unable to get the supplier to hold up its end of the arrangements and deliver the vaccines as promised,” she said.
“I think on many occasions you have heard the Prime Minister (Mia Mottley) and Health Minister (Lt Col Jeffrey) Bostic tell the country we are awaiting the arrival of vaccines, and on different occasions, we kept saying we were trying to source those vaccines and they should be arriving shortly. That really was what that was connected to.”
Bradshaw said procuring vaccines continued to be like “the wild, wild west”, a term constantly used by Prime Minister Mottley when addressing the matter.