The UK Government will donate and deliver 8,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to BVI next month, according to Governor August Jaspert.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for BVI. As one of the first places in the region to receive the vaccine, this gives us the opportunity to make these islands one of the safest places to live and visit,” Governor Jaspert stated.
He added, “It is a clear signal of the UK and BVI’s special partnership and I am thankful to the UK for this generous donation which comes at no cost to BVI. Our Health Services and public officials have been doing a fantastic job to fight COVID-19 and I hope the arrival of the vaccine from the UK will be an extra boost to help defeat the virus.”
BVI will be receiving the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which was given regulatory approval by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on December 30, 2020, after a rigorous, detailed scientific review by medical expert.
It has already been rolled out to thousands of individuals across the UK and is favoured for its more simple storage requirements compared to other vaccines.
The Government of the Virgin Islands will be responsible for managing the rollout and distribution of the vaccine in the Territory, and health officials are working on plans for how to most effectively do this following a visit from Public Health England to discuss plans in December.
Current advice from the World Health Organisation and Public Health England states that as many people as possible should take the vaccine. It will be offered on a voluntary basis in BVI.
Throughout 2020, the UK provided more than $1.4 million worth of medical equipment including testing kits, ventilators, protective gear, laboratory supplies, mobile isolation units and a new testing machine that has given BVI the capability to run real time PCR tests in territory for the first time. This is not only enabling BVI’s medical professionals to respond to the virus, but also building the long-term capacity of our local health services.
Further doses of the vaccine will be provided to BVI by the UK as rollout plans develop.