Speaking via a January 28, 2021, statement, Hon Malone reminded that as the rest of the world immunises, the Virgin Islands (VI) needs to do its part and immunise itself against the virus as well.
“Vaccination is not a magic bullet against COVID-19 but an important weapon in our arsenal to combat the virus and its impact on the Territory and wider global community. While vaccination will reduce the chance of death, severe disease, and hospitalisation from COVID-19, it will still be important for us to continue to adhere to social distancing and other protocols,” he said.
“Only through ensuring that sufficient persons are immunised against COVID-19 and together with the social distancing and other protocols can the world not only reduce the impact of this virus but begin to think about its eventual elimination,” he said.
The Health Minister said that with widespread immunisation globally and locally, the VI can begin to think about returning to some degree of normalcy and restoring its society and economy from the ravages of COVID-19.
Hon Malone also said the Ministry of Health is mindful of concerns surrounding new variants of COVID-19 identified around the world and in particular the United Kingdom and that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has established the capacity to identify new COVID-19 strains.
“The BVI has therefore already identified samples to be sent for special genetic typing, along with other countries in the region, for the purpose of identifying circulating strains in the Territory and the region,” he said.
“The new strain is currently thought to cause more infections and not necessarily more severe disease. Current evidence is that PCR testing, treatments, and vaccine are unchanged as compared to the other circulating strains,” Hon Malone underscored.