Jamaica has made a down payment of approximately US$1.1 million to procure a COVID-19 vaccine, said Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.
Bisasor-McKenzie made the revelation while speaking at a sitting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) on Thursday (December 3).
Bisasor-McKenzie explained that Jamaica is part of the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility which was helping smaller nations to secure the vaccines at a reduced cost for the most vulnerable, which amounted to around 15 per cent of the population.
“And we’re supported through the Caribbean Public Health Agency who has put forward some funds to assist with that initial down payment.”– Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie
“Initially, what the alliance is about is ensuring that all countries, whether great or small, have access to the vaccine at a reasonable cost,” said Bisasor-Mckenzie.
“Initially, I think that works out to be about 500,000 [persons] …So it’s about maybe about a million doses,” she explained of the two-shot treatment.
The CMO added that for the first 15 per cent of vaccines, the Government of Jamaica had already begun procuring them through the facility at a reduced cost.
“Well, for this 15% of vaccines we are procuring through the facility at a reduced cost. And we’re supported through the Caribbean Public Health Agency who has put forward some funds to assist with that initial down payment; where we’ve had to pay a 20% down payment.”
When pressed by PAAC Chairman Dr Wykeham McNeill for more details on the cost associated with the vaccines, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dunstan Bryan intervened, explaining that it would cost the government a total of US$8.2 million.
“So the subsidised cost for the 20 per cent is around US$8. 2 million. And we have had the initial deposit of about $1.1 million through CARPHA, which is a Caribbean Public Health Agency. And so, the balance we are programming for fiscal year 2021 2022,” said Bryan.
The aim of the COVAX Facility is to obtain and fairly distribute 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.