Premier Alden McLaughlin on Wednesday described the UK’s approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine as “very good news”, adding it has significant implications for Cayman.
“Our re-opening plans are contingent on a successful vaccine programme locally and internationally, so this is welcome news indeed for the Cayman Islands and the world,” McLaughlin told the Cayman Compass.
His statement follows the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approval for emergency deployment of the vaccine.
The move makes the UK the first country in the world to approve a vaccine for its population in the fight against COVID-19.
“The Cayman Islands is in a good position to receive vaccinations as they become available. We are currently in discussion with Public Health England and the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office about the imminent delivery of our first round of the vaccines,” McLaughlin told the Compass.
The BBC reported 2 Dec. that, in announcing the approval, the regulatory agency said the vaccine is safe to be rolled out and offers up to 95% protection against COVID-19.
Cayman’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee told the Compass, “I think the whole world is excited that vaccines are now becoming available to help us work our way out of this pandemic.”
He added, “There are still difficult times ahead, especially for countries struggling with rising infection rates, but as we begin to get our most vulnerable vaccinated, so too will we begin to feel more relaxed. The government has been working on its vaccination plans and will share these soon.”
Lee, speaking in a Government Information Services video on vaccines, said, the plan is to roll out the vaccinations across the islands within the next few weeks.
Additionally, he said, Cayman would order vaccines for 20% of the population.
“We would order two doses because most vaccines come with two doses. We all know that you have one then you have another one maybe six weeks later to strengthen the immune response to the body. That 20% will be used in our most vulnerable and in the healthcare population,” he said.
Prior to Wednesday’s announcement of the UK’s approval of the vaccine, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said he expected COVID immunisation doses to begin arriving a few weeks after the vaccine is formally approved.
Williams-Rodriguez, speaking on the Cayman Compass talk show The Resh Hour, said the Health Services Authority has already started preparations to receive the vaccine and is finalising a distribution plan.