Deyalsingh, Hinds: No scientific reason to close covid19 safe zones

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Operations supervisor at Movie Towne, C3 Centre, Kevin Ramsubhag, sanitises seats. – Marvin Hamilton

THERE is no scientific evidence to justify the National Trade Union Centre’s (NATUC) call to close covid19 safe zones.

No bonafide medical evidence was provided by three people who appeared at a NATUC news conference on Tuesday to claim they became ill because they took covid19 vaccines.

Everyone in TT must start pulling in the same direction against covid19 and reject all those who persist in encouraging vaccine hesitancy.

So said Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds during the virtual health news conference on Wednesday. Hinds said there is no logical or scientific evidence which supports NATUC’s claim on Tuesday that covid19 safe zones increase the spread of the virus.

“The science behind that doesn’t really make a lot of sense.”

Once people adhere to the public health measures which allow them to be in safe zones, as opposed to trying to find loopholes to escape those requirements, there will be no introduction or spread of covid19 within a safe zone, he said.

“We are going to hope that those aren’t in the majority, and re-emphasise all of the requirements for the operation of the safe zones.” Those requirements, Hinds continued, are layers of protection “to reduce the risk of an infected individual being in a gathering space in the public, while trying to allow some measure of economic activity and social activity in the midst of the pandemic.”

He pointed out: “Any attempt to make any restrictions or requirements that are put in place to reduce the risk of positive individuals interacting cannot lead to an increase (in covid19 infections).”

Deyalsingh said people should be happy that TT is trying to find ways to co-exist with covid19.

“I was quite taken aback by that call (by NATUC to close safe zones).”

He asked who would pay the rent or feed the families of employees of businesses operating in safe zones, if the safe zones were closed.

“The reward of having employees in a (covid19) safe environment far outweigh whatever risks there are.”

Deyalsingh addressed the claims made by three people at the NATUC news conference that they suffered adverse health effects after taking covid19 vaccines.

“If it is genuine (their claims), we express our concerns. But we have no way of knowing (the claims are true), because no medical evidence was put forward (at the NATUC briefing).”

Deyalsingh said that is complicating the conversation on covid19 vaccination.

He recalled that claims that late energy minister Franklin Khan and another person died last year after taking covid19 vaccines were proven to be false. Deyalsingh did not downplay the claims made by the people who spoke at the NATUC press conference, but said the Health Ministry will contact them to verify their respective conditions.

“Just because two things happen close to each other,” he pointed out, “correlation does not necessarily mean causation.”

The Health Ministry has a system to report adverse events caused by vaccination and immunisation,Deyalsingh said.

“It is not new. What is new is the public interest in it…which I am happy about.”

The system deals with adverse events caused by vaccination and immunisation, which are coincidental and caused by special events. In the private sector, he said, doctors report these events to the county medical officer of health, Hinds’ medical team, the national vaccination programme, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). A similar sequence happens in the public sector.

‘So there are clear pathways for any patient who suffers an adverse event or an unusual adverse event, (so) that the doctors and nurses, in both the public sector and the private sector, can send these reports and they will be treated with.”

Hinds agreed with Deyalsingh that events happening in close proximity to one another in terms of time may not be related.

“What would be needed to establish that causal link is some (medical) specialist review of the sequence of events.”

Hinds said people should not take unconfirmed reports of adverse effects arising from covid19 vaccines as reasons why they should not be vaccinated.

Comparing the covid19 pandemic to a tug-of-war contest between the world and the virus, Deyalsingh reiterated it was time to disregard those who continue to advocate an open or covert vaccine-hesitancy agenda.

“If we all don’t pull in the same direction, the virus will win.”