Cabinet is set to meet and discuss today other options to access COVID-19 vaccines for the Jamaican population.

These discussions come as smaller countries under the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility await COVID-19 vaccines.

The facility has so far been experiencing challenges to secure all the doses it committed to and all the funding needed.

This had led Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton to explore other options that may cushion any undersupply from the COVAX Facility.

The Health Minister says he’s taking the matter to Cabinet today.

Dr. Tufton says they’re hoping the WHO will deliver on its supply commitment.

Dr. Tufton says he’s hopeful COVID-19 vaccines may arrive in Jamaica before the initial April timeline.

Dr. Christopher Tufton, Health Minister speaking on Nationwide this morning with Abka Fitz-Henley and Danielle Archer.

In the meantime, Dr. Tufton says the difficulty in accessing PCR kits and fewer private labs coming on stream are two reasons that has limited Jamaica’s capacity to undertake more of the gold standard COVID testing.

The Minister’s comments follow news over the weekend that several Canadians were initially stranded in the island after not being able to access a timely PCR test.

Canadians were caught off guard by a new policy from their government last week when it announced that persons had to carry in hand a negative PCR test result to be admitted back into the country.

While the government has since delayed its policy to January 18, the Jamaican government will still need to ramp up its capacity after that date to meet the demand.

But Dr. Tufton says it has been difficult accessing PCR testing kits.

And, the Minister says the demand for tests has fueled the underground Antigen testing operations in Jamaica.

Several doctors have been reportedly offering COVID-19 Antigen testing without the requisite approvals from the Health authorities.

Dr. Christopher Tufton, Health Minister.