British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Health personnel, Minister Malone among first to get COVID-19 vaccine

Health personnel, Minister Malone among first to get COVID-19 vaccine

VI- Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie has revealed that the Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone (AL) will be among the first recipients of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the Virgin Islands [British].

Premier Fahie was asked by the host of the Honestly Speaking Radio show, Mr Claude O. Skelton-Cline, on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, whether he (Premier) and his government would be the first in line to take the vaccine "as a demonstration to the people of these Virgin Islands given some of the fears" surrounding the vaccine.

In response, Premier Fahie said, "we have a team in place to roll out the vaccine. We know that, of course, the Minister of Health [Hon. Carvin Malone] will be one of the first ones in the tier of persons that would take the vaccine but we also have to look and see which sectors – it's not mandatory – but which sectors would be the first set to be rolled out."

Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie has said the COVID-19 vaccines from the UK is expected in the Virgin Islands no later than February 15, 2021.

Front line workers

He continued: "Of course we have not concluded this, but in my own mind, the health team should be right up there in number one; they are on the actual frontline of COVID-19. Other than that we are looking at our law enforcement and our educators and the other sections that we would see fit for this first set with the couple thousands that we would be afforded. Because it's going to be, everyone is going to say who should be first and everyone is going to give a justification but more important for us is not more than any other are more than any other in terms of importance but at this stage, if you look at it in terms of the level of persons in terms of the frontline persons who would have to take it, it would have to be our health team first."

Notably, Premier Fahie did not indicate whether he and the rest of his administration would be taking the vaccine anytime soon.

He further informed that the territory had secured roughly 8,000 vaccine doses as a donation from the United Kingdom and their scheduled date of arrival would be no later than February 15, 2021.

The Governor's Office in a press release on January 12, 2021, said the VI will be receiving the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which was given regulatory approval by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on December 30, 2020, after a rigorous, detailed scientific review by medical experts.

It said the vaccine has already been rolled out to thousands of individuals across the UK and is favoured for its more simple storage requirements compared to other vaccines.

AstraZeneca vaccine concerns

The UK now has three different COVID-19 vaccines in use to fight the pandemic; however, the vaccine by AstraZeneca is considered the less potent and according to Business Insider on January 8, 2021, there is a reason why AstraZeneca's two-shot vaccine is still missing from the US vaccine arsenal.

The vaccine was developed in partnership with the University of Oxford and was authorised for use across the UK since December 30, 2020, and it's also been cleared to go into arms in India, Mexico, Argentina, and several more countries.

The FDA; however, is waiting for AstraZeneca to submit its vaccine paperwork, which may not be ready until the spring.

That data, according to Business Insider, came from a vaccine research trial which included more than 5,800 volunteers around the UK, South Africa, and Brazil.

"The results suggested that AstraZeneca's vaccine was 62% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections when taken as two full-strength shots. That's a much lower potency than both Pfizer and Moderna's shots, which were each more than 90% effective in trials."

'Big mistake' in trials

Business Insider also reported that the AstraZeneca trial included at least one big mistake. A subset of trial participants under 55 years old was accidentally administered a half-dose first shot, followed by a full-strength second jab.

"That's a pretty serious error," Dr Cody Meissner, chief of pediatric infectious disease at Tufts Medical Center, and one of the vaccine experts on the FDA's advisory committee told Insider.

It said those patients who had a less potent initial shot, followed by a full-strength booster actually appeared more protected from coronavirus infections, with efficacy surging to 90% in the subgroup. Experts were puzzled by that.

FDA says 'not so fast' to AstraZeneca vaccine

According to Business Insider, the FDA; however, hasn't been offered that data to review for an emergency use authorisation (EUA), which would be required for Americans to start getting vaccinated with the shot.

"Instead, AstraZeneca is going to wait for the results of a larger, US-based trial, where no half-doses are planned," Insider stated.


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