NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As more countries around the world begin issuing COVID-19 vaccines to their residents, Doctors Hospital Health System (DHHS) Infectious Disease Specialist and Clinical Director Dr Charlyon Bonimy said yesterday the vaccine can be a “game-changer”.
“The vaccine, I think, can be a game-changer,” he said in a video news release.
“Based on Pfizer’s internal analysis, they’re saying that there’s a 90 percent effective rate. Now, you can have a 90 percent effective rate, but if only five percent of your population actually takes the vaccine, it’s still not going to be that effective.
“And I think what’s important is that we have community leaders that we know what the evidence is out there to encourage individuals and citizens to see what exactly is going on with these vaccines and what the benefits can be.
“I think it’s important for the companies to be transparent with regards to what the side effects are and transparent about the type of population that they have enrolled in those studies.
“Do they look like you and me? And if they look like you and me, what side effects did they have?
“I think all of that is important as we move towards vaccination for the public.”
Earlier this month, Minister of Health Renward Wells advised that the government has budgeted nearly $4.5 million for the procurement and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the country, once one is chosen by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A down payment of $250,000 has already been paid for 80,000 doses of whatever vaccine is chosen by the WHO — accounting for up to 20 percent of the country’s population.
This week, Wells told the media that the government might be leaning towards purchasing the Moderna vaccine over the Pfizer one.
However, both Wells and Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis have previously stated that no one will be forced to take the vaccine once it becomes available — which, according to Director of the Infectious Disease Programme Dr Nikkiah Forbes, could be sometime next year.
Bonimy said he thinks the public health team and the media have done “a pretty good job” in getting the message across in terms of complying with health protocols to prevent spread of the virus, but noted that the country must adapt to move forward.
“I think we all have to adapt. We can’t stay closed forever,” he said.
“I think there are other determinants that staying closed and shut-in are important, such as other social determinants of health. Some people, they have two and three jobs that they have to go to to try and put food on their table.
“And so, we all have to adapt to what the new norm is and we all have to take responsibility for ourselves and try our best to protect ourselves.”