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JIS News

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says an early distribution of a potential vaccine could spur a quicker than expected return to normality in the tourism sector.

Mr. Bartlett, who was speaking to JIS News at the two-day Health and Wellness conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James, which started on November 18, cautioned that while the recent news that the world might be on the cusp of having two potential vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is “very encouraging”, the realistic approach is to condition the mind that, in going forward, it will never again be business as usual.

“There is good news that, so far, scientists at two internationally recognised laboratories are on the cusp of giving the world two vaccines to combat the coronavirus,” Mr. Bartlett pointed out.

“This is delightful news, as it signals that we are that much closer to finding a cure for the virus and, hopefully, the return to normality will be accelerated. We must condition our minds, however, to a new norm,” he added.

The Minister said that even with the presence of “a vaccine or two or more”, Jamaicans will have to continue to manage and follow the protocols that currently exist and be cognisant that a return to any kind of normality will be a result of “how well we are able to manage the things that we can control”.

Biotechnology firm Moderna on November 16 announced that its experimental vaccine against COVID-19 is 94.5 per cent effective, marking a second major breakthrough in the vaccine hunt.

Moderna released early results from a clinical trial with more than 30,000 participants after US pharmaceutical company, Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, last week said their vaccine was 90 per cent effective.

Moderna also said that it plans to submit applications for emergency approval in the US and around the world within weeks, and says it expects to have approximately 20 million doses ready to ship in the US by the end of the year.

Global infections from COVID-19 have soared past 54 million, with more than 1.3 million deaths since the virus emerged in China late last year.

The Moderna vaccine, which was co-developed by the US National Institutes of Health, is given in two doses 28 days apart, and the preliminary results are based on 95 volunteers of the 30,000 who fell ill with COVID-19.

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