Written By: Central Health – Grenada
Vaccinations are important. They help prevent and control the spread of infectious communicable diseases and illnesses. However, numerous news reports have made it clear that once COVID-19 surfaced and spread rapidly around planet earth, causing over 12 million cases and over 500,000 deaths worldwide the race to develop a vaccine took off. Millions and millions of dollars are being invested into developing a vaccine to control the spread of COVID-19, even while the virus mutates. Notwithstanding, part of the process for verifying the effectiveness of vaccinations is to encourage humans to enroll in clinical trials. These facts raise two questions:
1. What measures have been put in place to protect Grenadians from becoming ‘guinea pigs’ in an ill-intentioned scientists or individuals’ clinical trial?
2. What reassurances will nationals be given regarding the source of the COVID-19 vaccination supplied to our region – considering our genetic makeup may be different from those tested?
As part of an ongoing online series entitled, “COVID-19 & Those Most at Risk,” Central Health – Grenada interviewed, public health practitioner E. Francis Martin (DR), MD., MPH., on the aforementioned concerns.
Whereas Dr. Martin acknowledged that the vaccination protocol and schedule used in Grenada is guided by the technical support of PAHO/WHO, he made it very clear that currently there is an absence of legislation that deals with the protection of human sampling. “There is a concern for the region, in a sense that our small islands – we don’t have strong legislation that speaks to the use of human sampling or use of human subjects for research purposes. So, I will make a blanket statement to say that because we have weak legislation for human sampling, a company can request to use the Caribbean as human subjects. It would be left up to the national governments and the public health ministries to make a final decision on it,” said Dr. Martin.
When asked by the Founder of Central Health – Grenada, Roslyn A. Douglas, MA, DTM whether Grenadians should have concerns about the source of the vaccine, Dr. Martin legitimized the question, stating that medications that work well for persons with one genetic makeup may not work well for another, “It is true that if your genetic sequencing puts you in a different gene pool, a vaccine that works in “A-area geographically,’ may not necessarily work in “B – geographical area.”