Through Professor Cumming’s visit, the BVI is receiving much-needed additional support in its vaccination efforts against the debilitating COVID-19 virus that has brought the local economy to a virtual standstill.
Speaking as a guest on the Honestly Speaking radio show on Tuesday, Professor Cumming said the BVI has done a good job — both on the health front and with its borders — in mitigating the spread of the virus in the territory.
However, Professor Cumming said persons in the territory have a low perception of the risk of the spread of COVID and the resulting illnesses that accompany that spread.
Alongside this concern, he said there is an inaccurate high perceived risk associated with taking the vaccine.
This can be seen particularly among persons who have declined to take the COVID-19 jab.
“We don’t want the virus to be what actually causes persons to take the vaccine,” Professor Cumming said.
Cumming said while there is a slight risk with the vaccines, much like with many other things we do in healthcare, it is much safer to have the vaccine than to catch COVID.
He added that the BVI has also benefitted from a stroke of luck along the way. “It’s a combination of luck, good planning, and good management,” Cumming said.
The Professor pointed to places such as Anguilla, St Kitts & Nevis, Turks & Caicos, Bermuda, and Trinidad & Tobago. He drew a contrast to their recent outbreaks with the BVI’s experience with the pandemic so far.
“This disease can and does kill. I’ve seen it kill in Gibraltar where they had 60 or 70 people die in January or February when the virus got into the nursing and residential homes sector,” the Healthcare Ambassador said.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Irad Potter said Professor Cumming’s visit will assist with providing more information and answering questions from residents, as needed, given the territory’s current situation with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
More than 12,000 first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered so far.
The BVI has experienced one death since the onset of the pandemic. As of June 7, there are three active cases, 295 recorded cases overall, and 291 recoveries.