Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said on Thursday the country would have been in trouble if it had not received the Sinopharm vaccines from China.
Dr Rowley was speaking on the morning show Brighter Mornings with Bhoe with host Bhoedranath Tiwarie on Multicultural Television (MCTV) on Thursday.
Rowley said, in order to achieve herd immunity, the government would have to vaccinate three quarters of Trinidad and Tobago’s 1.4 million population.
“We’re targeting 900,000 people which means if the vaccine requires two doses, we would have to get 1.8 million vaccines. That is quite a large target, considering vaccines were not available.”
On Tuesday, TT received 800,000 doses of the vaccine from China. The government began its mass vaccination drive on Thursday with the food and beverage sector.
Rowley said for the first quarter of 2021, vaccines were not available to TT and other Caricom countries.
“We did get small donations from around the world but it was not enough.”
He said the Covax facility, which has been supplying Caribbean and Latin American countries with vaccines, was supposed to supply 20 per cent of its target.
“Up to today we have not received that 20 per cent from Covax. Fortunately for us, Sinopharm did get World Health Organisation (WHO) approval (and) we were able to get in large quantities. If you remove Sinopharm, you would see what trouble we were in.
“All we would have had so far would have been the 40,000 from Caricom, 40,000 from India, and 2,000 from Barbados. That would have been a very serious situation for us.”
He said the Covax mechanism is still suffering as it is not receiving vaccines from distributing countries.
Rowley said TT was supposed to receive the third tranche of 33,000 vaccines from Covax in July, but received word from the facility a few days ago the shipment would not be available until August.
Rowley also said the government is expecting vaccines from the African production and supply by the end of July or early August.
“We’re still keeping our fingers crossed for that. We are very much engaged with our African colleagues…They are all positive to us, but their circumstances are so dire we are really pleased that they have us on their programme to share with us.”
He said he is hoping TT receives approximately 200,000 from the unions on contract to produce the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in South Africa.
He said the government is able to slowly reopen the economy because more people are getting vaccinated.