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Caribbean News

CARPHA doubles down; the Agency does not recommend Covid-19 vaccines for healthy children



By Dana Malcolm & Deandrea Hamilton

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, February 15, 2022 – Do not use adult doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years of age, says The Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA and now, the Agency is making a new announcement that it has not recommended use of the Pfizer vaccine in children because the WHO arm, responsible for emergency listing has not given Pfizer the green light.

CARPHA, with this second public statement on the subject in mere days, is obviously hesitant to throw its full weight behind administering the vaccine to all children under 12 years old.

“The WHO Strategic Group of Experts (SAGE) that advises on Immunization has recommended the use of the vaccine in children 5-11 years of age.  However, the approval of the product in full comes from a different group of experts called the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing Prequalification Team. (EUL) This full product assessment is critical as it helps countries to be assured of the final vaccine product that may be registered in the country and used in children,” said CARPHA on Monday in a media statement.

Just last week came a stern warning in a press release that said CARPHA had not recommended the pediatric formulation. CARPHA noted that while uptake of the vaccine was critical in achieving maximum protection, there is a firm caution to Member States (which includes the Turks and Caicos Islands) against the use of any adult formulation of the vaccine on children.

Program manager of CARPHA, Dr. Rian Extavour said, “The possibility of errors in administering the vaccine dosage is of concern.”

Executive Director, Dr. Joy St. John also said, “Unless otherwise specified, Member States should continue adherence to recommendations for approved vaccines. This will help to ensure favourable benefits to individuals and communities.”

CARPHA is now doubling down on that message saying it matters to them that the prequalification team of the WHO looks at all aspects of the vaccine including: The composition; How it is made and where; How it is given (dispensed or administered); How it is packaged, and how it is to be stored.

It is unclear what is driving these messages but larger countries like the United Kingdom have approved the pediatric dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children only at the highest risk including those with learning disabilities and long-term conditions like diabetes. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization in the United Kingdom made the decision in December. No decision has been made for children who are not considered high risk.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has taken a different approach from the UK, giving approval for any child – healthy or immunocompromised – between the ages 5 to 11.

It makes Turks and Caicos one of the first and few in the region to do so.

Fellow Overseas Territory, Bermuda announced a decision – just last Tuesday – to use the pediatric doses; so too have Aruba (a part of the Dutch Caribbean) and the US Virgin Islands.

In terms of other British Overseas Territories, while Cayman does allow for vaccination of the 5 to 11 age group the child must be immunocompromised and have a letter from their doctor and in Gibraltar, vaccination of the age group is set for a March start but whether it will be for immunocompromised children only, is unstated at this time.

There is no information as yet on the direction on this step in the COVID response from other UKOTs: BVI or Monserrat.

Dr. Joy Saint John, Executive Director of CARPHA and Dr. Rian Extavour, CARPHA’s Program Manager are on the record as having long supported the operation procedure of the WHO  EUL which says the prequalification team which develops summaries and makes recommendations must first give safety approval based on its own findings.

There is, at this time “no science” or compelling evidence from the WHO or the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (UK) to support administering the pediatric dosage of COVID-19 vaccine to healthy children.

Bahamas News

Brave presentation in defence of Bahamas’ financial services reputation by PM Davis



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer


#TheBahamas, October 1, 2022 – Prime Minister of the Bahamas Phillip ‘Brave’ Davis is again calling for equality in the financial services sector and for the United Nations to leverage its universal jurisdiction for greater oversight of global anti-money laundering de-risking and tax cooperation matters.

In addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, September 24, Prime Minister Davis said the Bahamas is one of the best-regulated countries in the world, yet it has been under attack by international bodies and placed on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) blacklist while transgressions in the developed world are ignored.

He questioned why this was the case and highlighted some disparities in the financial sector.

“Why is it that European states that operate frameworks akin to that of high-risk or blacklisted countries, are not even eligible for inclusion on these lists? Why are all the countries targeted – all of them – small and vulnerable, and former colonies of European states? We find it astounding that the $2-$3 trillion dollars which is estimated to be laundered each year through the developed countries, are never flagged as causes for concern,” articulated Phillip Davis, addressing the 77th session in New York.

Prime Minister Davis further noted that there are elements of racism in the decision-making when it comes to regulating black-governed countries in the financial services sector. He also declared that black-governed countries matter as well.

And yet my country, which is widely recognized as one of the best-regulated countries in the world, and other countries like The Bahamas, are singled-out for such reputational attacks? The robust regulatory regimes of our Central Bank, Securities Commission, and Insurance Commission, are chastised on minor details of technical process, while much bigger transgressions in the developed world are ignored.

The evidence is mounting, that the considerations behind these decisions have less to do with compliance, and more to do with darker issues of pre-judged, discriminatory perceptions. Black-governed countries also matter.”

 Davis also highlighted the need for reforms that apply to all in the global financial system.

“Mr. President: We support the call for reforms in the global financial system to make it more relevant to the needs of today. But those reforms need ambition. They need to go beyond the incremental. And they need to apply to all. For example, the community of international financial institutions are in a position to forgive the debt incurred by the economic shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. They should do so.”

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Caribbean News

Hurricane Ian impact on Cayman Islands



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer


#Cayman, October 1, 2022 – The Cayman Islands experienced fierce winds and high seas from Hurricane Ian on Monday, as the storm passed offshore, causing little lasting damage.

Some areas on the island experienced flooding as low-lying condo complexes and some residential back roads were inundated with water. Almost 4,000 homes were without power on Monday; however, most had electricity restored by the evening.

There were also no reports of any injuries, deaths, or serious structural damage.  The country started its restoration process on Monday afternoon, clearing debris from the roads, surveying the damage and providing support to residents where needed.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Premier of the Cayman Islands Wayne Panton said he was pleased with how residents handled the situation.

“While we have been very fortunate to have been spared the worst of a potentially very serious storm, I’m extremely pleased to have seen the efforts made by the Caymanian public to prepare for ‘the worst, while praying for the best. In this situation, this is simply the safest, most strategic thing to do,” the Premier said

Despite the all-clear being issued on Monday evening, the Ministry of Education announced that government schools will remain closed to students until Wednesday, 28 September.

Meanwhile, in Cuba, authorities have declared emergencies in six areas, with forecasters warning of storm surges on the coast along with flash floods and mudslides.

Tens of thousands of people were told to leave their homes and seek shelter. Cuba could see up to 12 inches of rain from Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian dramatically intensified and is blamed for at least two dozen deaths in Florida; where the storm struck with near category five force winds and a near 20 foot storm surge.

Over 700 rescue operations were activated in Florida in the aftermath of the storm, which is still wreaking havoc in the U.S.


Cayman photo credit:  RC Cord

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Caribbean News

Soca Boss honoured as Trinidad & Tobago marks 50 Years



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer


#Trinidad&Tobago, October 1, 2022 – Machel Montano, the Soca Boss, was on Saturday, September 24, awarded the Hummingbird Gold National Award as Trinidad and Tobago celebrated its 46th anniversary of becoming a republic.

The Hummingbird medal is awarded for loyal and devoted service beneficial to the state in any field or acts of conspicuous gallantry or other outstanding humane action.

Montano, who is celebrating 40 years in soca music, expressed his gratitude for the award in a statement on his social media pages.

The Soca Monarch expressed gratitude to his family, who he said have always supported him throughout his journey.

“I am humbled and wish to dedicate this honor to my family, my parents, Elizabeth and Winston Montano, who set me on this path and without whom I would not stand proud here in this moment. Their love, guidance and support throughout the years have absolutely been my foundation,” Montano said.

Adding that: “My brother Marcus for igniting my musical spark and always being there up to this day, someone I can call on anytime for any task. My wife, my children, in-laws, sister-in-law, nieces, aunts, cousins and loved ones who have all steered and cheered me on.”

He also expressed heartfelt gratitude to his musical family, friends and fans.

“Over my 40-year journey in music my family has grown into a Famalay…sprawling all over the globe, all my musical friends; writers, producers, musicians, managers, dancers, collaborators, creators, techs, teachers, assistants, dedicated staff, friends and FANS 🙌… everyone who has ever contributed to anything I’ve done, it’s always been fun and I thank you all,” he said.

Montano said he hopes his award will inspire other entertainers and encourage them to keep working hard and aspiring.

Congratulations to the Soca Monarch and Boss on this major milestone.

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