OECS Heads of Government, including Prime Minister Gaston Browne accompanied by Foreign Minister E.P Chet Greene, met remotely on Thursday in the 5th Special Meeting of the Authority with just two items on the agenda.
In a three-hour session under the chairmanship of Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, the Heads debated the relative merits of a proposal by Ecolog Inc for rapid testing in OECS airports; as well as the relative merits of the two candidates for the position of Director General of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) who had been shortlisted by the ECCAA Board.
Several Heads were accompanied by their attorneys-general and by their senior ministers and health officials. The meeting also had the benefit of the input of Director of CARPHA, Dr Joy St John, who weighed in on the efficacy of the tests and other medical issues. Heads in a previous meeting had established a negotiating committee to interface with Ecolog Inc and the chair of that committee, Dr Sean Matthew, presented to the meeting.
Heads also took the opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding the emerging vaccines, including those developed by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and other vaccines that were likely to conclude all phases of clinical trials and be approved by the World Health Organization. Vaccines from Russia (Sputnik), Sinovac from China as well as the vaccine being developed by Cuba also featured in the discussion.
Heads noted that the focus internationally was shifting from rapid testing in airports to vaccines and digital COVID-19 passports and, given the investment required by governments, they had concerns about the viability of the project in a rapidly changing environment. The head of the negotiating committee was given one last opportunity to clarify certain issues with the company and place Heads in a position to make a final decision urgently.
Heads of Government arrived at a decision regarding the appointment of a new Director General ECCAA, but bearing in mind that one or two Heads were not present at the time, it was decided to confirm the decision by round-robin to all Heads in the coming days.
The Authority also agreed to a predictable schedule of meetings over the coming months, as the Authority sought to stay on top of the many concurrent challenges facing the region and to devise innovative and timely solutions.
Prime Minster of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves also provided his colleagues with a detailed report on the status of the active volcano in the country and the measures taken by his government.