Democratic Labour Party (DLP) vice president Andre Worrell has called on Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic to explain any role his ministry played in the current scandal surrounding a deal by a company owned by a local businessman to buy COVID vaccines for the Government from an American company that did not deliver the product.
St Lucia-based Radical Investments, owned by cement and construction magnate Mark Maloney, has filed a lawsuit in the United States claiming to have been “deceptively” lured into an “elaborate” $20 million (US$10.2 million) scam for one million “non-existent” doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through Floridian company Good Vibrations.
Court documents claim that a half-dozen defendants were involved in the massive scam that included the provision of false statements to Prime Minister Mottley.
While Mottley is at the United Nations in New York preparing to address the General Assembly, Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw told the nation in an address Tuesday that no taxpayer dollars were involved in the failed deal.
While speaking to the press on Thursday at DLP headquarters, Worrell said the idea that the Minister of Health was not aware of the deal in the first, even though it was on behalf of the Government, was unbelievable and warranted explanation.
He said: “We are questioning the Minister of Health. In a statement to Barbados TODAY, he said that he knew nothing about the process where documents are being circulated, having been signed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, in April of this year, surrounding the same vaccine issues.
“So that begs the question, does the Minister of Health have a communication channel with his Permanent Secretary, does he have regular management meetings, and why is something as fundamental and important as this, not being discussed with the Minister of Health?”
In the same breath, Worrell called for a change in strategy from health authorities in the way the COVID fight was currently being run. According to him, not enough emphasis was being placed at the ports of entry.
“If we are to win this fight against COVID right now, we will have to tighten the restrictions as suggested by the health care practitioners,” said the DLP spokesman. “The Democratic Labour Party, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), and virologists have suggested that we look at changing our travel protocols. We have not heard the Government making any mention of increasing controls at the border.
“What was suggested, is that we need to start having a mandatory three-day quarantine, with testing on the third day, so that we can trap and identify all positive cases of COVID at the border. We recognize that vaccinated persons can be COVID positive as well, so this policy which we currently have, where vaccinated persons spend one night in quarantine, is clearly not sufficient.”
Worrell also called on vaccination sites to be expanded to include pharmacy locations and private doctors’ offices in an effort to help increase the access for Barbadians to get the jab and help break the current surge in COVID-19 infections. (SB)