While the country has seen a number of break-through COVID-19 cases in the past few days, those likely to die from the disease are the unvaccinated, this assessment was highlighted by Dr. Jeremy Claude Myers, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Speaking at a virtual news conference hosted by Minister of Health and Human Services Hon. Jamell Robinson on Tuesday, January 11, Dr. Myers emphasized that it was necessary for the unvaccinated to get their jabs in order to protect themselves in order to minimize the risk of ending up in the Intensive Care Unit, which could require being flown out of the country.
He said that upwards of 66 percent of the positive cases tested last week were breakthrough ones but said they would continue to analyze the data.
“Even though we see that persons with breakthrough infections are vaccinated, the ones who would end up potentially critically ill and would require escalated treatment such as ICU or even may die from the disease are those who are unvaccinated,” Myers told the news conference.
Dr. Myers supported Health Minister Robinson in rubbishing claims that government was punishing the unvaccinated with its latest COVID-19 policies, one of which states that only patrons who are fully vaccinated or have a negative Covid-19 test within 24 hours would be permitted to enter restaurants, bars, nightclubs, discotheques and attend religious events and funerals as of January 14.
“So, while it may come across as we are targeting those persons (who are unvaccinated), we have to bear in mind that those persons are still going to be the most vulnerable amongst our population,” Myers argued.
He reminded that the Turks and Caicos Islands remains without an ICU, and, so, airlifting the inflicted to one of its overseas medical partners for treatment will be based on bed availability, since all of those countries have been impacted by the highly infectious Omicron variant as well.
“There is still no ICU capacity in the Turks and Caicos Islands. So, of course, persons affected this way, may very well have to wait, and perhaps may die or deteriorate while awaiting transport to an available facility.
“The surge that we are seeing here is being experienced in all of our providers, and sometimes finding that kind of bed-space is extremely difficult and takes time that sometimes these persons may not have. So, these decisions are really geared for good intention and to mitigate some of the risks, and some of the spread, noting that, yes, vaccinated persons do get COVID, but who is likely to die from it?” he queried rhetorically.
The deputy chief medical officers pointed out that when tackling crises such as COVID-19, the authorities must act fast, sometimes much to the chagrin of some members of the public. But hasted to point out that the Ministry was all about saving lives.
“We do not often have the luxury of time in dealing with public health crises like what we are dealing with now, to allow people to get their house in order, when the virus is kind of going at a much more rapid pace.
“We are not here to try and bully the population…our mandate is health and will always be health. So, we have to balance the science with the decision-makers of the country do take,” said, pointing out that not all its plans would rollout as anticipated.
“But, of course, it is not going to be perfect, that it is taking a lot of things into consideration, both lives and livelihoods. But overall health, and internally, what the capacity of the country is, which we know we have two very small hospitals, very limited available resources -both human and infrastructure.
“Some of these decisions are not really to pinch the pocket, but somebody who is ill and may need additional healthcare, there are those repercussions that we do need to take into consideration,” Dr. Myers said.