(CMC) — Grenada’s Minister of Health Nickolas Steele has confirmed that government is contemplating giving regional countries some of its COVID-19 vaccine stock that is close to expiration.
Steele said Grenada has held discussions with some countries on the matter, but he did not identify which ones.
“We have been approached by other countries…we also need to remember that our first delivery of vaccines came from a shared agreement with our OECS [Organization of Eastern Caribbean States] countries and, therefore, the principle of sharing has existed from day one with our OECS and CARICOM [Caribbean Community] brothers and sisters,” he said.
“I see no reason why that principle — …because we have vaccines that cannot be used in time — cannot be done. It will be regrettable to have them go to waste.”
Grenada rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination programme in early February with AstraZeneca vaccines from Dominica and Barbados. More than 17,000 people have been inoculated since then and 7,917 of those are now fully vaccinated.
Health officials have said that since announcing that the island’s vaccine stock is approaching its expiration date, there has been a steady increase in the number of people coming forward to be vaccinated. Thousands of doses, due to expire on June 27, are still available.
“We are seriously looking at our present uptake to determine the number of doses that we will use before the expiring date. The excess that we will not be able to administer, we have considered sending it to countries that have a better uptake and can use them, and we will do that with time enough for them to administer those vaccines,” explained Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shawn Charles.
In addition to receiving the gifted vaccines, Grenada has started to get more doses under the COVAX Facility — a global effort between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In early April, Grenada received 24,000 doses and it received another shipment on Wednesday.
It is expected to continue receiving doses through May until it reaches 45,600 doses — the amount specified by COVAX.