Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis received the first 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on Wednesday 10 March.
This shipment, a gift from the Government of India, is the first batch of vaccines to be used in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, beginning with healthcare workers.
“We are more than happy that India has assisted us, and we are grateful,” Prime Minister Minnis told the media on Wednesday following the arrival of the vaccines.
Trial runs of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout are set to start over the weekend, with the administration of the vaccines beginning as early as next week., said the Prime Minister.
Software has been developed that will allow those who choose to take the vaccine to make an appointment online. Appointment help centers will also be set up for residents who do not have access to the internet or a device to ensure equity in vaccine distribution.
Details of the appointment process will be released later this week, said the Prime Minister.
The vaccines arrived on United Airlines (UA1456) from Newark, New Jersey. The donation of the AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as Covishield, is part of the Indian government’s commitment to donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to CARICOM countries.
The Bahamas is scheduled to receive 33,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of March through the COVAX facility. This is part of the 100,800 doses that were pre-paid and announced in February.
The remaining 64,200 doses of the COVAX vaccines are expected to arrive by the end of May 2021.
The AstraZeneca vaccines received from India were pre-qualified by the World Health Organization and have received Emergency Use Listing (EUL) approval and certification from the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS).
Also on hand to receive the vaccines on Wednesday were Minister of Health Hon. Reward Wells; Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Darren Henfield; National Immunization Programme Manager, Nurse Ruth Bastian; Director General of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Sharon Brennen-Haylock; Bahamas High Commissioner to India, Mr. Lowell Motimer; President of the Bahamas India Association, Dr. Anupama Jacob; Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pearl McMillian; and COO Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Mrs. Viana Gardiner.