Members of the public are outraged over claims by Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph that many children in Antigua and Barbuda had died from the COVID-19 virus. His statements reportedly were published in the BARBADOS TODAY.
On Friday, July 15, Sir Molwyn addressed health and education officials in Barbados, where he advised the region to consider adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the regimen of regular immunizations for children.
Sir Molwyn said that officials in his ministry are discussing this issue and he believes it should be explored by all regional governments.
During an interview with the newspaper, the Health Minister reportedly said he had witnessed many children dying in Antigua and Barbuda after they contracted COVID from their parents or other family members.
As a result, residents and others are asking whether the Gaston Browne Administration and local health officials have been lying to the public and hiding the true COVID-19death toll – which, according to the Ministry of Health’s dashboard, now stands at 144.
At past press conferences, Health officials – including hospital Director Dr. Albert Duncan, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rhonda Sealy-Thomas, lab head Dr. Lester Simon, and others – said the disease was impacting mainly adults with comorbidities and that children –
some of whom did contract the virus – were not that critical.
Accordingly, “Where are the bodies of all these children?” one woman asks. “This government is very deceptive and has been fooling the people. Now the truth will out, as the saying goes,” she says.
Other residents made fun of a photo and video that show Sir Molwyn dancing at the Antigua Labour Party’s recent convention, with his bald spots on his head dyed black, saying the dye must have seeped into his brain.
A woman admits she is shocked that the Minister of Health could have made such a statement and asks that he be forgiven since he must be suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
A call is even being made for Sir Molwyn to be voted out of office and thrown out of the Cabinet. “That man is losing it. The responsibilities are too much for him to handle. He is very confused,” a critic says.
On the other hand, some persons see Joseph’s statement as a scaremongering tactic that was intended to push his vaccination agenda.
Several Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, have already carried out COVID-19 vaccination campaigns for children as young as 12 years old. At one point, this inoculation policy prevented children from going to school because they were unvaccinated.
Other countries are beginning to roll out an immunization campaign for younger children using the Pfizer pediatric vaccine or trying to source the drug. However, it has not been mandated for children.
At the time of the controversy, Sir Molwyn was addressing the opening ceremony of a media workshop for journalists from the Eastern Caribbean, entitled “Beyond COVID-19: The Children’s Story,” hosted by UNICEF and USAID.