20,000 Moderna vaccine doses to arrive in two weeks

Jamaica has secured some 20,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to arrive in the island within two weeks, National Health Fund (NHT) Chairman Howard Mitchell has confirmed.

Mitchell told The Gleaner yesterday that he was happy to secure the batch but wished it had been more

“I feel good that we have done something, but we need more than that,” the NHT chairman stressed.

Mitchell would not disclose the price at which the vaccines were secured, but noted they were the “most expensive”.

The Moderna vaccine, developed in the United States, sells for about US$32 per dose.

The Government has set aside just over $5 billion to acquire COVID-19 vaccines over the next year, with $2.87 billion to go towards procuring 600,000 Moderna doses.

“We bought it from a third-party seller. Occasionally, you will have people in the marketplace that pick up little bits and pieces and we have to entertain them. So, this batch was an opportunistic purchase,” Mitchell told The Gleaner yesterday.

“If I find more like that, I will take it, but the price is also a consideration,” he added.

On December 18 last year, the US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorisation for Moderna.

As the Government continues to hunt for COVID-10 neutraliser, Mitchell told The Gleaner that there were other vaccine prospects on the horizons.

“I have commitment that are coming in at the end of April, maybe early May,” he said.

In the meantime, Jamaica is awaiting word on whether 26,500 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines will be shipped to the island within the next two weeks as promised.

This as India, one of the main exporters of that brand of vaccine, has banned shipments outside the country amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said yesterday that Kingston had not received any communication from COVAX of a change in schedule or quantity.

The minister pointed out that India was one of four countries where the AstraZeneca vaccine is manufactured.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com