By Shermain Bique-Charles
Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell is accusing Prime Minister Gaston Browne of compounding fear among the population and undermining their confidence in the vaccination process.
Lovell said Browne was being deceitful in his handling of the Covid-19 vaccine that he reportedly took three weeks ago. Browne confirmed over the weekend that he had taken the Moderna jab.
But Lovell, like many residents is questioning the prime minister’s motives by not following the precedence set by world leaders who took the vaccine in public.
“No serious leader in the Caribbean or in the world would have done what the prime minister in Antigua and Barbuda did. There is no issue here with him taking the vaccines. I think everybody accepts that taking the vaccine is something we will all have to do,” he explained.
The UPP Leader said considering a promise by Browne to be the first to take the vaccine when it arrives on the island, the public was misled into believing that the same vaccine would be administered to them.
“Most people expected that whatever brand of vaccine that we are getting here, he would stand up first in line and take that brand of vaccine. As it turned out, he availed himself of the Moderna vaccine which is considered to be the front runner as far as vaccines go,” Lovell argued.
He said such behaviour also signals bad leadership, one that cannot inspire Antiguans and Barbudans.
“So here it is, he goes in secret, he takes the vaccine and three weeks later he lets it slip out on his radio station. In fact, there is so much doubt, so much fear there is so much misunderstanding, that what we need right now are clear signals to give the population that sense of confidence,” he added.
The question of loyalty to Antiguans and Barbudans also came into play, Lovell said.
“What he did was to say to the population that ‘I am gong to make sure my family and I are okay and whenever the vaccines comes, then you will take it and let’s hope all goes well. I took one type of vaccine but I am giving you another type’. That’s bad leadership,” Lovell claimed.
According to online reports, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown astonishing — and essentially equivalent — degrees of efficacy, at least in the early stages after vaccination, but from all reports, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be the injection of choice in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Pfizer vaccine showed efficacy of 95% at preventing symptomatic Covid infections after two doses while Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19, after the second dose.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford product appears to be the worst of all, and it fell down to less than 50 percent effective — the benchmark health agencies set for Covid-19 vaccines.