Trinidad and Tobago began talks with China’s president Xi Jinpin on Tuesday as the country looks to procure COVID-19 vaccines from it.
The bilateral talks, held via teleconference, were described as “productive” with the Chinese president using the occasion to reiterate its commitment to assisting the twin-island republic in its COVID-19 fight.
According to Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister, Dr Amery Browne, who also participated in the teleconference, there was conversation on the possibility of Trinidad acquiring China’s Sinopharm vaccines for use, in addition to discussion on bilateral cooperation more broadly.
“This morning’s discussions were enhanced by our strong history of good relations with the People’s Republic of China and further enhanced by the friendship enjoyed by the two heads of government over the years,” said Browne
“Prime Minister Rowley reaffirmed the critical importance of equitable access to approved COVID-19 vaccines for the people of our nation and region, and across the globe, and noted that the Sinopharm vaccine is currently being considered for approval listing by the World Health Organization,” Browne added.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh noted that while only WHO-approved vaccines will be administered to citizens, he said the country could acquire the Chinese vaccines before the approval, which would mitigate against some supply challenges.
“We have precedent in Trinidad and Tobago by bringing vaccines into the country and waiting for WHO approval as we did with the gift from Barbados. That came into the country around the 12th or 13th, they were here. We took a position; we were not going to administer it until we got WHO approval, we got WHO approval on Monday the 15th and we started to administer on Wednesday the 17,” Deyalsingh explained.
We will do the same thing with any other vaccine that stands a very good chance of being WHO-approved,” Deyalsingh added.