“If the Delta variant gets a hold in the community, I could only say heaven help us.”
These were the sobering words of Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh on Wednesday as he pleaded with the population to partake in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive.
Deyalsingh, who said 60.8 per cent of the adult population remains unvaccinated, added that the Delta variant of the COVID-19 disease is three to four times more transmissible than the gamma variant. As such he said, the public health measures can only go so far in offering protection. He warned that this strain could prove catastrophic if it spreads in the community.
“Ladies and gentlemen this is of deep concern to us as we have been saying all along. So far, the Delta variant we have been catching it at quarantine sites, one or two who presented with a negative PCR and fully vaccinated and went home we have been getting them so far so good. However, if the Delta variant as it has in other countries gets a hold in the community setting amongst a largely unvaccinated population, things could turn bad overnight in hours not days.”
“The entire health system will become overwhelmed; the economy could be affected. So, I want to make a clarion call for adults to be vaccinated. No appointment is made, no lining up. It is so easy, and you have a choice of vaccines. It is an area of concern as it has always been, the large portion of the population many of whom are eligible but still for whatever reasons are not being vaccinated,” he said.
For children between the ages of 12 to 18, he said 60 per cent of this population still remains unvaccinated. He asked that parents and children pay attention to developments in other countries where hospitals are overwhelmed and treatment for non-covid patients has been interrupted.
“60 per cent no doses received. It means that in the 12 to 18 cohort we have roughly about 54,000 children that are not on their way to a first or second dose. The same concern about the Delta variant catching on in an unvaccinated population between 12-18 is dire. Please pay attention to what is happening in other countries where whole hospitals cannot provide basic care for their heart attack and stroke victims and so on because they are overwhelmed and overrun by covid-19. We need parents and guardians to get vaccinated and if you have children between 12 and 18 to get them vaccinated,” he said.
In addition to these populations, he said, the diabetic population in Trinidad has also been hesitant in being vaccinated. He said various posts on social media have shown misinformation within this community.
However, he referenced research that indicates persons with diabetics and other non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) are more likely to be hospitalized or suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms than others.
“The estimate for the number of diabetics in Trinidad is 182,000 to 280,000 persons…Our research is telling us that persons with diabetes still believe that because they have diabetes they should not be vaccinated. If you have diabetes, then the covid-19 vaccine is for you. Persons with diabetes which we call sugar are three times more likely to have serious complications from covid-19 than persons without diabetes. Diabetics are more at risk for hospitalization and death from covid-19. Dr Hinds has been saying this for months now, when you look at the co-morbidities, diabetes, hypertension etc., those persons often have a more negative outcome,” said Deyalsingh.