AstraZeneca, the giant pharmaceutical and biotechnology company says there is no bilateral agreement signed between the Government of Barbados and that firm with regards to the procurement of vaccines.
Responding to queries from Barbados TODAY, the British-Swedish multinational company with headquarters at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in England, said its priority is currently to deliver on the implementation of agreements signed with national governments during 2020 and with COVAX, the global initiative co-led by GAVI (The Vaccine Alliance), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Our current focus is delivering on our substantial global commitments to governments and international health organisations, as quickly as possible to help end the pandemic. As such, there is currently no private sector supply, sale or distribution of the vaccine,” Government Affairs, Patients and Communications Lead, Monica Zolorzano Lobo disclosed.
“If someone offers private vaccines, it is likely counterfeit, so should be refused and reported to local health authorities,” Zolorzano Lobo advised.
Radical Investments, a St Lucia registered company operating in Barbados, was allegedly defrauded of over US$10 million in a vaccine deal on behalf of Barbados and other Caribbean countries that never came to fruition. It has since resulted in the company filing a lawsuit against more than half a dozen businesses and individuals in the U.S District Court in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Just over a week ago when numerous questions swirled about the administration’s involvement in the deal, Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw contended that the arrangement with Radical was in no way exclusive or unusual at the time that it occurred.
She added that the Government authorised the purchase of one million doses with the intention of having 300,000 for Barbados and the remainder for neighbouring Caribbean countries.
“Yes, the Ministry of Health and Wellness would have had discussions along with the Director of Finance with AstraZeneca directly for this particular arrangement, because that is the only way that AstraZeneca would afford the opportunity to any intermediary to act on behalf of the Government of Barbados,” said Bradshaw.
In fact, Bradshaw noted that the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines which started the national campaign was brokered through a private individual who had contacts within the Indian Government.
“At that time, there was a scarcity of vaccines, not only in Barbados, but across the entire region and therefore, having someone who could actually purchase these vaccines, particularly in these large quantities, with a view that we would enter into relationships across the region to be able to purchase it, for us was certainly an attempt to get vaccines into the arms of as many people as possible,” Bradshaw added.
AstraZeneca meanwhile, is giving the assurance that it is committed to continuing co-creating solutions to meet the multiple needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At AstraZeneca we are responding to this situation consistently with our values of following science, putting patients first and doing the right thing. AstraZeneca is working at unprecedented speed together with our supply partners to support broad, equitable and timely access to the vaccine,” the company’s spokesperson told Barbados TODAY.
Good Vibrations Entertainment, the US company which is being sued has denied it’s responsible for the AstraZeneca vaccines not being delivered.
Its Chief Executive Alex Moore said that his company was being blamed after he was placed under pressure to deliver the vaccines by a particular time and was not able to do so.
Moore said his company was merely facilitating the procurement of the vaccines but was not responsible for supplying.
In fact, he has threatened a “huge” counter-suit against Radical Investments. ([email protected])