Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Indian-Made AstraZeneca May Not Be Accepted for EU Travel

Bahamians vaccinated with the Indian-made Covishield AstraZeneca vaccine could face challenges travelling to some European countries due to the EU making a distinction between brands of the controversial vaccine.

Though the Indian-made AstraZeneca was authorized in the EU, UK and the World Health Organization, the EU is making a distinction between the AstraZeneca vaccine made in India and the vaccine made in Europe.

It is worth noting that both the AstraZeneca versions are chemically the same but with new labeling and packaging.

Europe has since changed its European manufactured version of AstraZeneca to Vaxzevria, their brand name for the vaccine, and prefers this brand of the vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The problem

The Serum Institute that made the Indian version has not yet published the complete trial results. Each brand must supply its own efficacy data, and crucially, apply for its own authorization with the relevant authorities.

First J&J Vaccines Arrive in Country

38,400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the country on Thursday morning.

It is one of three vaccines secured by the government to inoculate the population against COVID-19.

To date, the government has secured over 550,000 doses of vaccines which include AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

The J&J vaccine is different from other vaccines in that it requires a single shot of the vaccine, while others require two shots against the virus.

How Well the J&J Vaccine Works

The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials (efficacy) at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in people who received the vaccine and had no evidence of being previously infected. People had the most protection 2 weeks after getting vaccinated.

In the clinical trials, the vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick. No one who got COVID-19 at least 4 weeks after receiving the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine had to be hospitalized.

Governor General Contracts Breakthrough Case of COVID-19

Governor-General C.A Smith has contracted a breakthrough case of the coronavirus after being vaccinated.

A press release from Government House said Smith was tested on Friday after coming in contact with someone who was COVID-19 positive.

His results came back on Sunday confirming a positive result.

Smith is not experiencing any symptoms and is quarantined.

It was not revealed where Smith contracted the virus.

Exuma Community Remembers Doctor Who Died From COVID-19 Amid Vaccine Plea

An Exuma-based doctor has died from COVID-19, as health officials press for Bahamians to become vaccinated.

Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, Chair National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee disclosed the death of Charles Wildgoose, a doctor in Exuma at the Di-ara Comprehensive Medical Center.

Dahl-Regis said she was informed of his death before speaking at the health update on Sunday afternoon.

Wildgoose was among two other healthcare workers infected with the virus and hospitalized, which included another doctor and a nurse.

Dahl-Regis stated that none of the healthcare workers were vaccinated, included Wildgoose.

Chief Medical Officer Pearl McMillan said just over 50 percent of healthcare workers are vaccinated.

“We have a long way to go. This is of grave concern as it relates to getting healthcare workers vaccinated,” McMillan said.

Speaking directly to healthcare workers, she said, “We must, we must colleagues, we must become vaccinated.”

Meantime, Exuma MP Chester Cooper described Wildgoose as a “calm and caring physician and a progressive entrepreneur who consistently wanted to expand and improve medical care in Exuma.”

FNM candidate for Exuma Jenny Isaacs-Dotson said Wildgoose’s death will have a “great impact on the Exuma community.”

What You Should Know About Pfizer

Over 108,000 Bahamian citizens and residents have received one or two shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to prevent contracting COVID19.

AstraZeneca was the first vaccine introduced to the Bahamas. Now, Bahamian citizens and residents have another option, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which will be distributed on Monday.

Get the vaccine and know the facts:

  • The Pfizer vaccine is reported to be 85% effective after the first dose, based on research by an Israeli study published in The Lancet medical journal. But, do not delay the second shot.

A study of more than 19,000 teens and adults across the United Kingdom shows that two shots are necessary for good protection against the Delta variant. Reports show that when patients are fully vaccinated, with two weeks to take effect, the Pfizer vaccine was about 88% effective against the Delta variant.

  • With Pfizer, you are likely to experience side effects, similar to AstraZeneca. The most common symptoms are fatigue, pain at the injection site, and headaches.

Unlike Astra Zeneca, the symptoms can show up at different times. With AstraZeneca, the symptoms happen after the first shot. However, with Pfizer, the symptoms tend to happen after the second jab.

  • Pfizer vaccines can present risks. Rare reports of heart inflammation called myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart membrane called pericarditis have been linked to the vaccine. Symptoms associated with this are mild but they include shortness of breath, chest pain, and palpitations.

The risk of developing myocarditis or pericarditis occurs within a week after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and appears to resolve itself.

First Batch of Pfizer Vaccine to Arrive on Thursday

The first shipment of Pfizer will arrive in the country on Thursday.

397,000 doses were donated to the Bahamas by the US government and are a part of nearly 837,000 doses delivered to Caribbean countries.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that the country will receive 128,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday.

The vaccines are due to arrive by flight at 1:30pm tomorrow.

“Along with the doses we will receive tomorrow, the vaccine supplies we already received, and other doses on the way, over the next weeks and months we will have the capacity to vaccinate all Bahamians and residents who wish to receive the vaccine,” said Minnis

“Our vaccine supply will allow us to give a significant percentage of our population protection. This will in time lessen the likelihood that we will have large-scale surges that cause extremely high hospitalizations.”

Minnis noted that the Pfizer vaccine will be available to adults and to 12- to 17-year-olds with the consent of a parent or guardian.

Minnis thanked the US Government for the generous donation, including the assistance of the US Embassy in Nassau, and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), for facilitating the donation.

No Lockdown Plans but Minnis Pleads with Bahamians to Get Vaccinated

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis did not announce a national lockdown during his national address, as presumed by many. However, he begged Bahamians to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases claim more lives and hospitalization at the country’s hospitals surges.

In a national address to the country on Wednesday night, Minnis asked Bahamians to disregard the anti-vaccination disinformation circulating social media which are hampering vaccination efforts.

“These falsehoods are leading to serious illnesses and deaths by those who base their decisions on this false information. They are making people afraid of medical science and vaccines.

“I want to be very clear, we are in a struggle between life and death. Taking the vaccine will protect you from serious disease and deaths.

“The vaccines have been tested. They are safe. There is nothing to be afraid of. The virus that causes covid19 is easy to catch.

“Our public health experts recommend you take the vaccine. World health experts recommend that you take the vaccine. As a medical doctor of 40 plus years, I recommend you take the vaccine.  Do not listen to fake news over the medical science.”

Vaccines have been limited in the country as doses are only available for people receiving the second jab.

Minnis said his government has been working hard for many months to secure more vaccines.

“We have been trying to move heaven and earth to secure more vaccines.”

The 3rd tranche of prepaid vaccines of 33,600 doses of AstraZeneca through the COVAX facility is expected to arrive next week, Minnis said.

He said the government is also working with Caricom and the US government regarding donation of Pfizer vaccine.

Pfizer will be offered to 12 to 17-year-olds with the consent of parents and guardians.

Over 3000 Doses of AstraZeneca Arrive to Combat Virus Swell

The Bahamas was supplemented with 3,496 doses of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine which arrived on Wednesday evening.

This comes as only a limited supply was available for individuals receiving the second dose of the jab.

The doses were a donation from the British Overseas Territories of Montserrat and Anguilla, with the assistance of United Kingdom High Commissioner Sarah Dickson.

Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, chair of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee and special health adviser to the Prime Minister was on hand to receive the donation at Jet Nassau FBO at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.

“The vaccines are a welcome addition to our current vaccine supplies and will be used to continue the administration of second doses.

“We express our deep appreciation to the governments and people of Montserrat and Anguilla and the United Kingdom for this much-needed support.”

Dr. Dahl-Regis also thanked the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for helping to coordinate the effort.

The big picture

The country is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases as vaccine supplies remain limited.

Ninety-five new cases were recorded on Tuesday, increasing the total number of cases in the country to 13,781, with 1264 active cases.

The upsurge in cases has placed a strain on the Princess Margaret Hospital as the country’s premier medical institution said it was implementing new measures “to manage the institution’s already strained services as a result of a surge in COVID-19 cases presenting at the Emergency Department.”

In a press statement, the hospital said, “The new measures are designed to reduce the spread of the virus among patients and staff and to account for an increase in the number of persons having to be admitted.”

Hospital officials said the overwhelming majority of individuals stricken with the virus are unvaccinated individuals.


A 4th Wave is Looming. The Bahamas Must Accelerate Vaccination Drive

COVID-19 cases in the country are swelling. The latest statistics from the Ministry of health show 95 new cases, increasing the total number of cases in the country to 13,781, with 1264 active cases.

Saturday’s statistics showed 100 new cases. Thirty-eight new cases were recorded on Sunday and Monday’s statistics showed 81 new cases.

The majority of the cases are concentrated in New Providence, with Grand Bahama, a far second. Abaco, Bimini and Cat Cay, Eleuthera and Exuma are a close tie in new cases.

Health Minister Renward Wells blamed the surging number of cases on the events and gatherings held over the Independent holiday weekend.

“Usually, there’s an uptick in cases about seven to eight days… 14 days out from any sort of major holiday. We have just come through the entire weekend of Independence, so folks would’ve gotten together in groups on beaches and homes, celebrating our independence and obviously we would’ve expected that given the fact that we would’ve had positive cases in the country that there would’ve been an uptick.

“We’re going to be looking over this week, assessing over the data and then seeing where we are and whether we have defined clusters or anything new that is developing.”

The uptick in cases is not unique to the Bahamas. The United States of America is battling cases that have tripled in number due to the Delta strain.

US health officials acknowledged that the country has hit its 4th wave of the virus as deaths and hospitalizations escalate.

While few numbers are among the vaccinated group like the elderly and the immune-compromised, the majority of those stricken with the latest attack of the virus are the unvaccinated group including children.

The director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Rochelle Walensky has labeled this latest wave, ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated.’

Minnis has followed suit, acknowledging that the unvaccinated individuals face the worst casualty in the pandemic as the government “aggressively pursues” more vaccination.

Currently, the government has a limited supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine and has since only offered second dose jabs.

The third tranche of Astra Zeneca is expected to arrive later this month, and Pfizer is expected in August.

If the country is to beat the virus and prevent the 4th wave of COVID-19, citizens must ignore the misinformation about the vaccine, and government must move quickly to mobilize a vaccination drive.

Health Officials Warn of Coronavirus Misinformation Circulating Social Media

Health officials are warning the public of a fake COVID-19 message circulating social media, purporting to be a request from the Ministry of Health.

The social media message is targeting people who were inoculated with Astra Zeneca, requesting that they share their personal information if they experienced COVID-like symptoms after taking the Astra-Zeneca vaccine in the Bahamas.

In a press statement released on Thursday, the Ministry of Health said it was made “aware of a message circulating on social media purporting to be an urgent and very important request for persons vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the Bahamas. The message appealed to persons experiencing COVID-like symptoms for more than three days to share personal details and information about the vaccine administered.

“The general public is advised that this message did not originate with the Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health, and hence, is not an approved communication.”

Health officials advised the public to seek accurate information only from the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Prime Minister, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, and to guard against receiving and sharing misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine.