Jamaica getting 50,000 doses of COVID vaccine from India

JAMAICA is set to receive 50,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from India some time next week, which will be the country’s first shipment of the drug.

Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica Masakui Rungsung made the announcement yesterday morning at the handover ceremony for medicine and supplies worth US$100,000 ($13.5 million) to the Jamaican Government, and revealed that the vaccines should’ve already arrived in the country, but were delayed due to uncontrollable issues.

“Jamaica’s share is ready to be shipped! The vaccines should have been here by now, as we speak. The shipment could not be scheduled on time as expected. This situation has given us sleepless nights. As much as you’re worried, we’re even more worried. But today, just before I came here, I received good news that the vaccines are about to arrive next week,” Rungsung said, noting that he will not disclose a specific arrival date.

This news follows an announcement from the health ministry, which said 50,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were expected from India. Jamaica is among several Caribbean Community countries that will benefit from a donation of 500,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines by the Government of India.

India has been pushing for Jamaica to get the vaccines, Rungsung said, admitting that he has been pressing several players to ensure that happens.

“I’ve gone to the extent of pushing our people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we’ve gone to pushing the Serum Institute who are the producers of these vaccines. We’ve gone even a step further to go to the Ministry of Civil Aviation to find out exactly what the situation was,” he said.

In a Facebook video post, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith said: “I am so pleased that our friends and partners, the Government and people at the Republic of India, have confirmed that their kind gift of 50,000 COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Jamaica next week.”

Among the medicine donated by India were 14,000 metronidazole, an antibiotic that is used to treat a wide variety of infections, which works by stopping the growth of certain bacteria; 11,800 paracetamol for pain or fever; and 713 hydroxychloroquine tablets (200mg) to treat rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

“Ultimately, these medicines are for meeting the requirements of common people, and it cannot have come at a better time than this day. On behalf of the Government on India, I’m honoured to formally hand over medicines donated by India to the people and Government of Jamaica,” Rungsung said, applauding Jamaica’s efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.

“These medicines are essential and critical to Jamaica’s response to COVID-19. It could help save many lives in health facilities across the country. We are living in extraordinary times where the best of health and medical facilities that human minds and knowledge have invented were caught completely off guard and thousands of lives from many developed countries have fallen victim,” added Rungsung.

On the other hand, he said, the extraordinary times resulting from the pandemic presented an opportunity for countries to unite and fight against the common enemy.

“It has also presented us an opportunity to remind us of our age-old relationship. The gift that’s coming from the people of India is a sign of our friendship. In India, we are in a brutal fight against COVID-19, but that won’t stop us from supporting our partner countries in their own battle with the virus.”