“Vaccine apartheid” has nothing do with race — T&T Prime Minister

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley has refused to retract his recent statement in which he compared the unequal distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to apartheid.

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar accused the government of promoting racial division with the statement.

According to Rowley, he did not coin the term ‘vaccine apartheid’ as he explained that the expression has to do with small countries being left out of the vaccine market and nothing to do with race.

“I was simply quoting a phrase that came out of England where reporters in England were talking about vaccines only being available to the rich, white countries of the North of the world and not being available to the small countries elsewhere in the world and they called it ‘vaccine apartheid’ because only certain people were getting it by certain attributes,” Rowley said.

“This is not a Trinidad problem, it’s not even a CARICOM problem because 130 countries in the world today have not got a dose. Ten countries have got 75 per cent of what has been produced so far,” he added.

Rowley has received flak from the Opposition over the slow pace of vaccine supplies.

The Opposition has also taken issue with what it has phrased as the Government’s hesitancy to ask for assistance in sourcing vaccines from India.