The objective of Government is to vaccinate at least 60% of the population so as to achieve ‘herd immunity’ and in that context, much efforts are being deployed to bring vaccines in the country so that a maximum number of people can get their first jab, stated, this evening, the Attorney-General and Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, at the daily press briefing of the National Communication Committee held at the Treasury Building in Port Louis.
Speaking about the controversy around the AstraZeneca vaccine, Minister Gobin reassured the population that the World Health Orgnisation (WHO) has ruled out any link between the vaccine against COVID-19. He pointed out that the vaccine has some side effects but is safe except for those with medical conditions. He also spoke about the commercial war between laboratories to produce vaccines against the virus.
As regards the Consent Form which has to be signed before getting the vaccine shot, the Attorney-General reassured that it is being done in a spirit of transparency adding that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. Recalling that the first COVID-19 cases were detected more than a year ago, he pointed out that no laboratory has ever developed a vaccine in such a short period of time, where normally at least five years are required to produce a vaccine. The vaccine, he underlined, has been approved by emergency use in Mauritius and by the WHO.
On the legal front, he underscored that the United Kingdom has last year passed the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme while the USA is giving immunity to manufacturing companies.
Also present, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Kailesh Jagutpal, reiterated the need to conduct a vaccination campaign on a large scale adding that several vaccines will be used during the campaign. In that context, he announced that Mauritius will receive, on 19 March 2021, a first consignment of 200 000 doses of Covaxin from the Government of India. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Government of India for this gesture and for its continuous unflinching support to the development of Mauritius. This action, he reiterated, demonstrates the strong bond of kinship that exists between the two countries.
Speaking about the Covaxin, he highlighted that the Vaccination Committee has already approved the vaccine produced by Bharat Biotech in India and which has more than 80% efficacy rate. Dr Jagutpal furthermore stated that millions of people have already used the Covaxin vaccine without any secondary effects.
He also indicated that, with the help of the Indian High Commission, Mauritius will purchase more doses of the Covishield vaccine with the Serum Institute of India. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is currently working out the formalities to purchase the Russian Sputnik vaccine.
He recalled that presently, frontliners and Work Access Permit holders are being vaccinated adding that the vaccination campaign will soon be opened to the public.
For her part, Dr Catherine Gaud indicated that all COVID-19 patients are stable. Speaking about the AstraZeneca controversy, she pointed out that the vaccine is more than 94% effective against the coronavirus, adding that some 17 million people in the world have received the AstraZeneca vaccine and only 15 cases of blood clots and 22 cases of pulmonary embolism have been detected. She stated that there is no rationale behind the controversy highlighting that the WHO is favourable towards the vaccine.
Latest figures on COVID-19 situation in Mauritius
· As at date, a total of 156 positive cases have been detected
· Three new cases detected today, two from the Curepipe cluster and one from the Malherbes cluster
· Some 368 PCR tests have been conducted today
· Random tests are being conducted across the country and till date, all have been negative