PM Browne writes to British counterpart requesting compensation for ‘Antigua variant’ Covid claims

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In a letter addressed to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne has asked the British government to urgently consider compensating Antigua and Barbuda by donating 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.  

The request came after Public Health England (PHE) last Thursday said a new coronavirus variant had been identified in the UK in two people who had recently been in Antigua.

The Prime Minister told the British leader that “Antigua and Barbuda is highly dependent on tourism and has long been a favoured holiday destination for British tourists but the report that went viral after it was picked up by international media, has caused hotel bookings to be cancelled”.   

Prime Minister Browne said the country was already “reeling from the almost complete shutdown of tourism caused by the pandemic” and asserted that the PHE posting has “eroded confidence in the gains Antigua and Barbuda made in its management of the virus”.  “We now have to redouble our efforts at great expense,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Browne made it clear to Johnson that “no British visitor to Antigua had contracted Covid-19” in his country.  

He affirmed that his government has enforced strict protocols for managing the pandemic and has had a comparatively low level of infections and a high level of recoveries.   

Prime Minister Browne also stressed that the British High Commission to Antigua and Barbuda explicitly stated on March 13 that “there is no scientific evidence to determine where this variant first emerged” and that it regretted “any misunderstanding that may have arisen from the matter”. 

Antigua and Barbuda is one of over 150 nations struggling to secure vaccines at a time when the costs are high and more than 80 percent of them have been bought by rich countries, including the UK. 

Prime Minister Browne remarked to Johnson that “Antigua and Barbuda have always cherished its close relationship with Britain” and he “looked forward to a favourable response to his proposal”.  

Observer has reached out to the British government for comment.

Read Full Letter below:

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