Jamaica will be receiving 50,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, COVAXIN, from India the middle of this week.
Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica Masakui Rungsung made the announcement yesterday morning at the handover ceremony for medicine and supplies worth US$100,000 ($13.5 million) to the Jamaican Government, and revealed that the vaccines should’ve already arrived in the country, but were delayed due to uncontrollable issues.
“Ultimately, these medicines are for meeting the requirements of common people, and it cannot have come at a better time than this day. On behalf of the Government on India, I’m honored to formally hand over medicines donated by India to the people and Government of Jamaica,” Rungsung said, applauding Jamaica’s efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.
The vaccine made by private Indian company Bharat Biotech has yet to be backed up with Phase III clinical trial results. This did not prevent the Indian government from approving the vaccine for emergency use in India.
While many Jamaicans are thanking India for this goodwill gesture, the “common people” who Rungsung claims the vaccine will be benefitting are not being made aware that the vaccine has not yet completed human trial.
Rasta activist and Reggae artist, Jango Fresh, is staunchly against COVAXINE going into the arm of Jamaicans and warned his fans via social media that they should not be the guinea pigs for India or Bharat Biotech.
“These people are taking Jamaicans for idiots and dumping their untested vaccine on us under the guise of goodwill,” Jango posted to his 1.2 million social media followers. “It’s a shame that our government is not even telling us that the vaccine we are getting is still in phase III testing but it is even more shameful that with the internet at our fingertips, us Jamaicans are not researching the vaccine ourselves.”
Jamaica’s Health and Wellness Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton rubbished Jango Fresh statement and pointed out that thousands of Indians have been vaccinated with COVAXINE with all positive results and no adverse side effects.
“Jango Fresh is not giving his fans the full picture. He is pointing out the fact that COVAXINE is still in testing phase but he fails to mention that the vaccine was approved for emergency room as early as back in January. So it is not like they are giving us something that they themselves are not taking. Even Brazil has spent millions on this vaccine,” Tufton said.
Brazil did order 20 million doses of COVAXINE in a deal worth 1.6 billion reais ($286 million); however, Brazilian prosecutors are now suing to suspend that purchase citing the lack of Phase III clinical trial results.
Regardless of the opposition against COVAXINE coming to Jamaica before being fully tested, 50,000 doses will arrive on the island this week. Whether or not there will be 50,000 Jamaicans willing to take the vaccine remains to be seen.