A year-old, locally-owned private company made up of high-powered businessmen is anxiously standing by to invest in Government’s proposed national vaccination fund to purchase additional doses.
Chairman of the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery (Barbados) Inc, Andrew Mallalieu revealed that the company is only awaiting word from Prime Minister Mottley – who last week suggested calling on the organisation.
“We have people who have contributed for the purchase of the vaccination and that sum has been raised and as soon as the Prime Minister and her team are able to source and call on us to help with the funding, we will disburse the funds – but we have not had that call as yet. We are anxiously awaiting the call to say that she has managed to source it because I think she said last week until she knows for sure she will get it, she isn’t saying anything,” Mallalieu told Barbados TODAY in an interview.
Government expects to procure tens of thousands more of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX Facility of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to continue the immunization of the Barbados population who wish to be inoculated.
Late last month, the COVAX Facility announced its final allocation of COVID-19 vaccines for Barbados and countries in the Eastern Caribbean by the end of March that will see them receiving enough vaccine to cover 16 to 20 per cent of their population. Barbados’ allocation is 100,800 doses.
The Mia Mottley administration received a donation of 100,000 vaccines from India last month and is in the final stages of administering the first of the two-dose vaccination to close to 50 000 recipients.
The non-profit COVID-19 Relief and Recovery (Barbados) Inc was established to provide financial assistance to persons in Barbados affected by the virus, reimburse the Government of Barbados for expenses directly associated with the COVID-19 virus and provide for the establishment and maintenance of hospitals, healthcare centres and generally to promote healthcare in Barbados.
Mallalieu, a real estate investor, said the company is also focused on raising money to buy medicines to treat those with the virus and purchase equipment to test for the disease.
He disclosed that to date, they have spent more than $4 million on initiatives that are “urgent and important” and are now standing by to help with the next round of vaccines.
“To date, we managed to help with PCR machines, we managed to buy the oxygen plant for Harrisons Point, we funded 50 per cent of the COVAX when Government needed to sign on to the COVAX Facility to guarantee vaccines,” Mallalieu stated.
He said that people in and out of Barbados including foreign interests resident here, have been “very generous” in donating to the company’s COVID fund.
Last week, the Prime Minister told the country in an address that while the first batch of vaccines from India was free, additional doses will have to be purchased.
She indicated that because her administration was under economic stress it was necessary to launch a national vaccination fund to which she wants residents to contribute. She said while recipients will not be charged, she was appealing for donations.
She also insisted that because of previous instances where COVID-19-related equipment destined for this country was diverted elsewhere due to no fault of the Government’s, she was not willing to confirm the additional vaccines, until they actually landed at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).
The new charity was incorporated on March 25, 2020 with its focus on reaching out to Barbadians overseas as well as locally to help raise money.
However, the chairman assured the country and prospective donors that none of the money raised would go into the pockets of its directors or would be used for any other reason other than for the objectives outlined.
“We are tasked to support Government’s effort to fight and treat the virus and we will support the Government’s “Adopt a Family” programme that will be needed to assist families because of the significant financial challenges they will face in our fragile economy,” the company head revealed.
The other directors are businessmen Mark Maloney (deputy chair); Sir Paul Altman and Queen’s Counsel Barry Gale. Director of Finance and Economic Affairs (DFE) Mr Ian Carrington was nominated by PM Mottley to sit on the board.