The man overseeing the treatment of COVID-19 patients nationwide, Dr Corey Forde, on Friday issued a challenge to unvaccinated Barbadians to take the COVID-19 jab within the next three weeks, setting an ambitious target for curbing an unprecedented wave of infections he declared “a storm”.
The Prime Minister immediately threw her support behind the medic’s challenge, urging Barbadians to “do better for him than you have done for me”, in the face of her apparent failure to persuade 50,000 people to take the jab in five weeks.
Dr Forde’s challenge came as health officials reported the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in a single day – 427 new cases from a total of 2,555 tests conducted on Thursday. Medical experts have described a daily infection rate of 500 and above as a dangerous turning point in the trajectory of the deadly disease.
Stressing that his challenge to take the COVID-19 vaccine was “not planned but from above”, he added: “I am going to give the country a challenge, that… by the middle of next month I would love every single Barbadian who has the opportunity to get vaccinated to help us on the ground, to help our challenge on the ground, I really would like you to step forward and do it by November 15.”
Dr Forde, the infectious disease specialist who heads the COVID-19 isolation facilities, said: “As we go through the midst of the storm and if we really want to get to the eye of the storm and make it across the other side it is going to [not] only be dependent on us who are fighting on the ground, and I want to assure you we are, but it is going to take a large response from the general public in this country.
“I am pleading with all Barbadians in this country to add wisdom and common sense to your daily living. If you are not sure, pray to God and he will give you the answer. I am sure you know what the answer is because He is speaking to me as I speak to you. I am asking you to protect the health care workers and protect this country.”
Declaring that he wants the country to get back to some sense of normalcy, Dr Forde said like many Barbadians, he was longing to do a lot of the things he was used to doing before the pandemic reached here in March 2020.
But he insisted that for this to happen it will require “as many Barbadians as possible” to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of Friday, more than 146,300 Barbadians have been given at least one shot of the COVID-19 jab and just over 119,870 people have received two shots. This means that just over 44 per cent of the eligible population is considered fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
Backing Dr Forde’s challenge, Prime Minister Mia Mottley told journalists that in the last two months, close to 45,000 people were vaccinated, which suggests it is possible for that same number of people to be vaccinated over the next three to four weeks.
Mottley said: “This country has vaccinated 45,000 people in the last two months, therefore, when Dr Forde issues a challenge, he went for just under a month, I hope you can do better for him than you have done for me and that you can give us another 45,000 in that month instead of two.”
In the middle of last month, Mottley told a news conference that on average some 6,500 people were being vaccinated per week in Barbados, and called for that number to be bumped up to 10,000 weekly.
But that target has not been met.
“If we get another 45,000 Barbadians vaccinated within a first dose and then ultimately the second dose, then what we have effectively done is to reach 70 per cent of our adult population and more than 83 per cent of the eligible population. That is exactly where we need to go,” said Mottley. [email protected]