Barbados’ death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 23. The persons who were felled by the viral illness most recently are two women, an 80 year old Trinidadian and a 75 year old Barbadian.
The Barbadian senior passed away on the evening of February 12, after spending three days in the Primary Isolation Unit of the Harrison Point Isolation Facility. The Trinidadian national passed away this morning (February 13), after 15 days on a ventilator in Primary Isolation at Harrison Point.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is extending condolences to the grieving families and friends of the deceased. Observing expressed sadness that these deaths occurred as the Ministry of Health and Wellness is moving to take the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme to full roll-out. Some 100,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, a gift from the Government of India, will be used in the island’s vaccination programme; while part of this number will be shared with sister CARICOM countries.
Health Minister Lt. Col. Hon Jeffrey Bostic stressed the value of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the arsenal in fighting the disease. He commented that while questions had been asked about the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, it had been endorsed by the World Health Organisation as well suited to persons over 65. “This is important given the fact that senior citizens constitute a large percentage of the Barbadian population.”
Minister Bostic further commented that WHO had also indicated the vaccine was proven to have a high level of efficacy and was recommended by WHO for use “even in countries that have circulation of the (South African) variant.” Up to this point, the COVID-19 vaccine has not been recommended for persons under 18 years old, but research is now ongoing to test the suitability of the AstraZeneca vaccine for minors.
In addition, the Minister pointed out that the WHO recommendations also addressed the fact that the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine does not require deep, subzero temperatures for storage like some of the other vaccines on the market. This makes the vaccine appropriate for use in tropical and developing countries with limited storage capacity.
The Minister said, “while being vaccinated is completely voluntary and a personal choice, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), the nurses of Barbados, other health professionals, and Ministry officials hope that every Barbadian will take this opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones from the illness, its more virulent forms and reduce the risk of death; this is what the vaccine offers.”