Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that the government secured a commitment from India for “a small quantity” of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
He said the vaccine is from a World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing-approved manufacturer in India.
The Bahamas has secured 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX Facility. Minnis said he expects to receive more details about the shipment of the vaccine today.
“Additionally, the Bahamas government has also been able to secure a commitment from the government of India for a small quantity of AstraZeneca vaccines from a WHO/Emergency Use Listing (EUL)-approved manufacturer in India
“The government continues to work on all fronts to secure additional approved vaccines for The Bahamas.
“Officials are speaking directly with multiple suppliers to obtain more WHO/EUL-approved vaccines.
“As we have said previously, the government will only accept COVID-19 vaccines that are pre-qualified for use by the World Health Organization and approved by stringent regulatory authorities.
“The vaccines must have high safety and efficacy records.
“Where vaccines have been used, there have been decreased hospitalizations and deaths.”
His announcement came days after Minister of Health Renward Wells revealed that the Indian government had offered to provide The Bahamas with its local COVID-19 vaccine.
“We have also been offered vaccines by one of the largest countries that produce vaccines for the globe, which is India,” Wells said.
“India has offered to grant us X amount of doses of vaccine. But, we are very much interested in the COVIDShield that India produces, which is the AstraZeneca form of the vaccine.
“India has produced, as I said earlier, its own local vaccine called COVAXIN. We’re waiting for the WHO (World Health Organization) to approve COVAXIN.”
He said the government will look into sourcing the vaccine from India if it is approved by the WHO.
Suchitra Ella, the company’s joint managing director, said last week that she felt “quite confident” that COVAXIN will receive WHO approval.
“I am sure when the data is released to the world, as early as we can, I think the WHO will certainly approve COVAXIN based on its efficacy and safety data,” Ella said.
“We will be very glad to talk to The Bahamas. In fact, I will request the honorable high commissioner’s office to take the lead.
“Twenty-one countries have already registered. We will be very glad to do the same with The Bahamas as well, through the high commissioner of India.”
COVAX was produced by Bharat Biotech, which is in the process of filing documents for approval of the vaccine in more than 40 countries, according to Reuters.
COVAXIN requires two doses, which are given four weeks apart.