Prime Minister John Briceno spoke about a request which he has made to the Indian Government for a donation of COVID-19 vaccines. Last month, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, rolled out a vaccine friendship initiative in which his country is supplying other world nations with doses of the vaccines. It is being referred to internationally as "vaccine diplomacy", and two consignments of those vaccines went to the island nations of Dominica and Barbados.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Briceno told our colleagues that his government is trying to source COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to protect frontline workers. He added that if teachers can be vaccinated, schools can start to safely reopen after nearly an entire year of being closed. Here are those comments.

Hon. John Briceno - Prime Minister
"At this time, what we did we sent them a letter asking them if they can help. Once they respond, which I believe they will respond - I think shortly, sometime soon - our Foreign Minister will probably get in touch with the Foreign Minister from India to see how we can move that process, and after that, if it is necessary, I will speak with Prime Minister Modi to see how we can get some vaccines for Belize. I've said that we need to get vaccines immediately for the first-responders. We need to protect them because they are out there in the public, looking after us, so, we have to look after them. But, our children haven't been in school for - next month is going to be a year [that] they've been out of school. And we need to see how we can get them back in school as quickly as possible. That's why I have to follow Rosanna, and I have to give Rosanna the credit. She was the one who said, 'You know if you want to open the school quickly and safely, give the vaccines to the teachers, so that they could to the schools and teach our children safely.' And I am going to make that recommendation to the Ministry of Health, and also to Cabinet, that we can discuss it. We need to open schools, as quickly as possible. We are doing all sorts of things. We are meeting with different groups to see how we can get as many vaccines into Belize as quickly as possibly can. The first amount, is - I think - for 100,000 persons to give under the COVAX agreement through the UN. We're a part of that, through PAHO. We expect that those vaccines are going to come in by the middle of next month. There's another group that said that they're going to be donating 20,000 vaccines. Barbados is giving us 1,000 vaccines, which will be able to vaccinate 500 people."

The Prime Minister says that he is hoping for a response from the Indian Government, which he anticipates will come soon.

Channel 7