He stated that for the period May 30-June 3, there were 92 cases at 51 schools, which was a decline from the last update where 172 cases were reported.
Speaking at Wednesday’s virtual Covid-19 press conference, Deyalsingh said since testing at schools began there has been a decline in the number of positive cases reported, beginning with 306 in the first week and moving in a positively trending direction of 233, 172 and now 92.
He also called on parents of children in the five to 11 age group to have them vaccinated.
He added that since the vaccination programme for that age group began, 1,194 children have had their first shot of the Pfizer paediatric vaccine.
In addressing the issue of the expiry of the Pfizer adult vaccine, Deyalsingh said: “The expiry date of these vaccines is June 30. So as you know, we’ve been advising over the past couple of weeks that we would stop administering first doses by June 5, and we have done that. So, it means that anyone wanting to access a first shot of the Pfizer vaccine 12 years and over, can no longer access that.”
Stating that what they will be doing is giving people their second shot, he urged persons to come in before June 30 for their second shot.
“Also, for those who need to be boosted, get boosted now because after June 30 if you wish to have the Pfizer booster you would not be able to get it, especially the 12 to 18’s because at this time that is the only vaccine we can boost them with.
He said while adults can be boosted with another vaccine apart from Pfizer, persons in the 12 to 18 age group can only be boosted with the Pfizer vaccine.
Calling on persons in the five to 11 age group to take advantage of the opportunity to start their vaccination now, as the vaccines are due to expire in October, the Health Minister said: “Take advantage of it now, and the reason for that being when we pay attention to the global vaccine production supply chain, you’re seeing that because of plummeting demand, vaccine manufacturers are now cutting back or shutting down vaccine manufacturing plants. And our fear is that because we are getting out of the acute phase of the pandemic and we’re coming a little more relaxed, we may not be seeing a sense of urgency to get vaccinated. However, we don’t know what the future of Covid holds for us in the context of new variants.
“It is my wish that people get vaccinated now, especially those parents who have children five to 11. Don’t wait for a new variant to come on and then we rush to get vaccinated.”
He noted that the Serum Institute of India has started to reduce its vaccine output due to a drop in demand, while holding an overstock of some two hundred million vaccines.
“In South Africa, Aspen Pharmacare is shutting down its vaccine manufacturing plant which was supposed to supply vaccines. And Pfizer Biovac is also shutting down its vaccine manufacturing capacity because of plummeting demand.
“The message is we don’t know what the future holds. And when we combine the possibility of a new variant and the possibility that after October 2022 vaccines for the five to 11 may not be available, and something happens and you rush for vaccine, you may not get that vaccine.
“Let’s be proactive and get our people vaccinated sooner rather than later,” Deyalsingh noted.
And Dr Avery Hinds stated there is a decreasing trend in the number of Covid-19 cases being recorded.
During his epidemiology update, Hinds said they started seeing small declines towards the end of May, which has trickled over into June, leading to a smaller total represented by a 37 per cent drop between the end of May and the start of June, in terms of the weekly totals.
He noted that with the decline came a drop in the percentage of tested cases that came back positive, moving from the 40 per cent range to the 30 per cent range.
“So this again is a downward trend we’re hoping continues to manifest itself and we’ll continue to monitor,” Hinds said.