Currently, only the AstraZeneca brand of the COVID-19 vaccine is available in the BVI. But while speaking in the House of Assembly on Thursday, Malone said: “The United Kingdom government has said that we would look in terms of – as quick as possible – getting the Moderna vaccine accessible here in the Virgin Islands and we’re making foot to make sure that this is done.”
“We – if possible – will get both the Pfizer and the Moderna accessible right here in the territory,” Malone added.
Questions have previously been raised as to whether the BVI has the storage capacity to facilitate the Pfizer vaccine, given that it is required to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celcius. Moderna has said that its vaccine needs to be frozen too, but only at minus 20 Celsius, which is more like a regular freezer.
Meanwhile, Malone has said that, in the interim, the government has sought further assistance from the US Virgin Islands (USVI), with whom it recently partnered to have BVI residents, especially children, visit the neighbouring territory to get alternative vaccines.
Malone announced that the last trip to St John, USVI under that programme happened yesterday. The minister said he travelled on that trip and held talks with the USVI’s Lieutenant Governor, Tregenza Roach.
“Deputy Governor Roach has actually committed to bringing the concept of being able to further access the Pfizer vaccine for school-aged children. We will be exploring this to make sure that this could happen,” Malone stated.
Unlike AstraZeneca, Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for children and teens.
In the meantime, with the arrival of the Mu variant of the virus in the territory, Malone encouraged persons who haven’t yet done so to get vaccinated.
The government has rolled out an aggressive vaccination drive in which persons can take advantage of the AstraZeneca vaccines which are made available to BVI by the United Kingdom at no cost.