COVID-19 tests kits sold to global charity

| 31/07/2020 | 59 Comments
Cayman’s surplus tests kits will help tackle COVID-19 in Zimbabwe

(CNS): Government has sold 50,000 PCR COVID-19 tests to a global charity for use in Africa for $1.1 million. Cayman still has tens of thousands of kits for its own use and the sale to the ELMA Relief Foundation will not impact the ability of this jurisdiction to keep testing, officials said. More than 30,000 tests have been carried out in Cayman so far and the negative results continue. But questions are now being raised about the plans to reopen our borders.

With no COVID-19 briefings for two weeks, government has offered no updates on the soft opening plans in the face of the continuing spread of the virus outside these shores. CNS has submitted a number of questions and we are awaiting a response after concerns were raised that things may have changed with regards to the soft opening on 1 September.

Government was expected to introduce a bio-button system that would allow those returning to or visiting the islands to provide a negative test prior to arrival, self-isolate in their own homes or hotel accommodation and then take another test here after five days.

However, CNS understands that there may be some changes to those plans and Cabinet will be considering the way forward on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, as government wrestles with how it will allow visitors into the country, Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee said Friday that another 180 tests had been processed over the last day with no positive results. Cayman remains free of any active cases, making the opening of the borders all the more challenging.

During the month of July the country recorded just two cases of COVID-19 after carrying out 5,935 tests, but it is now almost three weeks since the last positive result.

Mass testing has been a major reason why the virus has been run to ground here. The Cayman Islands Government sourced 200,000 kits from South Korea at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that public health had the ability to test large numbers. As a result at one point Cayman became one of the top three countries in the world for COVID testing per capita.

But with more test kits then we are likely to be able to use before they reach their use-by date at the end of this year, the government made a decision to sell more of the kits.

The ELMA Relief Foundation, which has now purchased 50,000 PCR test kits, has donated them to the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) for use in Zimbabwe, one of the most resource-constrained countries. The kits, which were in frozen storage in George Town, have been shipped to Southern Africa in coordination with ELMA, the HSA and the Governor’s Office.

“I am very grateful to the ELMA Relief Foundation for organising this initiative,” said Governor Martyn Roper in an official release about the sale.” We purchased an excess of COVID tests to ensure Cayman’s resilience at a crucial point in the pandemic. Our options in terms of testing have now expanded and it is great that our surplus kits will be going to assist with COVID response in Africa.”

Premier Alden McLaughlin said he was delighted the vital supplies will be going to support vulnerable communities in Africa and that Cayman was able to play a part in that as well as supporting other Caribbean countries. 

“Our stocks of COVID testing supplies remain robust and we continue to look at innovative solutions to help us navigate through this crisis,” he added.

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Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    selling unwanted and almost out of date covid test kits to a charitable organisation!…..and they were a charitable gift to cayman in the first place!
    wow…the caymankindness is mind blowing!
    just another day in our caymankind wonderland

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let’s all hope they have sold them and are using the funds for the new 60min test that is rolling out in the UK next week.

  3. Anonymous says:

    CIG should have donated this to the charity…as it was a gift from a Caymanian.

  4. Anonymous says:

    ELMA is Clive Calder’s charitable foundation (this is public information, see Forbes profile in the link below). Clive has quietly lived in Cayman for many, many years (and employs a large number of people in Cayman at his organization Northview, as many of you reading this know).

    I dont think Clive wants the government to give the proceeds to Susan Olde, as he likely realizes that the government can help a lot of people locally. And Im sure all of this has been discussed behind the scenes amongst Clive and Susan.

  5. Anonymous says:

    ‘Mass testing has been a major reason why the virus has been run to ground here.”

    The virus has run to ground because of wearing masks and social distancing and not because of testing.

    The testing is a tool to measure the effect of actions taken.
    Mass testing gives you more certainty about the effect.

    Gratitude to all these people that went through the horrible process of having a stick shoved up their noses.
    These people did not really have a choice.

    In the meantime we have an even bigger problem. The gays are coming.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, actually the testing identifies those that have it, so that public health can ensure that they are quarantined until no longer infectious. Test and trace.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This virus is with is to stay get it get immune just like any other btw with a mortality rate of 0.03 that’s less than the flu

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t believe FOX news the death rate of the normal flu is not 3%, not even remotely close.
      The Spanish flu that killed over 50-100m worldwide had a death rate of 2.5%.
      Normal flu is around 0.03%
      COVID 19 current deaths to confirmed cases is 3.8%

      That makes it 128 times more deadly than the seasonal flu

      • Anonymous says:

        Where sis you get that mortality rate from?
        3.8% is over the top while .03% is to little.
        Most countries that have good testing and monitoring are running around 0.5%…Yes still more than the flu.

        • Anonymous says:

          WHO has stated today mortality rate is 0.6%

        • Anonymous says:

          from the current confirmed figures:

          Covid cases: 18m
          Covid deaths: 0.69m

          0.69/18= 3.83%.

          Not arguing that there will be many unconfirmed cases and unconfirmed deaths (as they don’t test dead people). But those are currently the WHO figues

          • Anonymous says:

            Not even close and thats not how they work out mortality rates.

            As per WHO’s press conference its close to 0.6%

  7. Anonymous says:

    If the kits weren’t stored in a deeply frozen state at all times, they could be invalid. Where is the freezer and who monitored it?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is the government going to give the proceeds from the sale of these test kits to Mrs Olde who originally paid for them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The bio-buttons have been sold to the Government by persons with the “gift of the gab”, just like the CCTV and the new car licence plates with the “chip”! There is no local back up to make it a viable option.

  10. Anonymous says:

    We bot each unit for $22 each, and are “charitably” selling the soon-to-be-expired kits at exactly the same per unit cost and trying to spin it as a charity story…smh. This regime doesn’t understand what selflessness is.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s gross that the Cayman Islands is so proud of ripping-off a charity that was lazy with it’s due diligence. It would have been better value for the ELMA Board to buy brand new kits with full shelf life at the same $22/unit. The Cayman Islands government has taken advantage and capitalized in the process – on brand for this regime.

      • Anonymous says:

        Except they may be unable to access them – remember the hoops we jumped through. Not everyone has philanthropists who have a few million to donate so you can buy the minimum order volume, or the private jets to fly them out of Korea. And if they are going to use them before December – 50K tests not going to go far with a population the size of Zimbabwe – the expiry date is irrelevant. The charity is probably more concerned keeping them frozen prior to use. Now whether or not we should be selling something that was gifted to us as a charitable gesture – and to a charity at that- that’s a different question. I would hope they would at least ask Mrs Olde if she objected, or pledge to spend the money on the NAU or the food programs here.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Off topic but can the DoE do something about these mosquitoes? It’s unbelievable how many there are now, I always hear the plan flying over but nothing coming out.

    CNS: The DoE has nothing to do with mosquito control. That is done by the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU), a completely separate department.

  12. Anonymous says:

    maybe we should have sold them to the 3rd world of the USA

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean the 3rd world country where most of your tourists come from? Where your gas and food comes from? Seriously.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry to burst your bubble, but you have to admit that the US is certainly 3rd world when it comes to Covid suppression.

        • Anonymous says:

          9:37 they love to call everywhere else third world or a “shithole country” but theirs is looking pretty shitty these days. Not to mention many places are barring Americans from entering. Cayman needs to do the same. The US has become the laughing stock of the world, everyone is watching them fail miserably at suppressing this virus.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hate to break it to you, but not everything comes from the US. It’s a big world out there’ As for our US tourists, they are typically the worst. So it isn’t a loss not having them here. Brits and Canadians are a big part of our tourist base too and are usually preferred. Their behaviors and over all attitude are typically a lot better.

        • Anonymous says:

          Tourist come and stay and leave when their time is up ! They do not try to come and stay here forever and run the natives down or displace them that the difference eh!

  13. Anonymous says:

    So let me get this straight…every teacher in the Cayman islands needs to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work, but children are not required to get tested before returning to school. Yet the government can afford to sell test kits to charity?

    • Anonymous says:

      As a person that has been tested 6 times I see no need to have my child subjected to the disconcert of being tested just to go to school.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then you are an idiot because children are carriers of this virus as well. Our teachers are just as valuable as the students. All students should be tested too.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Two weeks quarantine is not “reopening.” It’s just more lockdown. No one will come. Better treatments are months away at best, vaccines a year or more, if ever. You can say no Americans, but Europe and South America have plenty of virus. If you let a significant number in from anywhere, you are going to get some cases. Can you stay shut down till January? How about January 2021? You will lose 50% of your economy by January and that may be conservative.

  15. Elvis says:

    Best hang on to them, we gonna. Need them. Come november

  16. Walmartman says:

    Although a large portion of the cost of the covid test kits was donated, it seems we are now in the business of selling them. We sold large numbers to various Caribbean islands and now it’s Africa. It’s not clear to me why we ordered far more than we needed in the first place.

    • Anonymous says:

      Seems you don’t seem to remember the part about having to order a min of 200k. Is it because you didn’t remember or are you trying to stoke some agenda to imply something else?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Any idea who is peddling the bio buttons?

    May not be a surprise to many!

    • john smith says:

      I was always puzzled when i heard Cayman bought 200k kits for a population of 60k. Also, it is known from the start the kits have an expiry date, all medical equipment does. It was quite obvious that the amount of kiys purchased was far more than needed, this was known to all of us in the industry. So why was so many kits bought, as we all see now, to sell for profit. Lets not think this act is honorable or alturistic, it was simply business. Again, this government disappoints.

      CNS: It was explained at the time that 200k was the minimum number that they could get.

  18. Fed-up says:

    When do we get the All Clear and can go back to normal life? Once we can do that then we can consider opening the boarders.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I believe we are number 8 CNS.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Are we going to refund the lady that paid for them?

    • Anonymous says:

      In case you really don’t know, Mrs. Olde very generously donated funds to pay for half of the costs.

  21. Anonymous says:

    It was the Bahamians that where exempt from testing that caused the problem taking day trips to FL.
    It was NOT the tourists and having a requirement to test twice and isolate for 5 days will overcome this problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      And to this day, many Bahamians still don’t wear masks properly, don’t social distance, don’t use sanitiser when entering stores, and believe covid is some sort of hoax.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Two weeks quarantine when we reopen, no exceptions. That’s the only way to be safe until a vaccine is available. The Bahamas tried reopening and have since reverted back to a mandatory 2 week quarantine. Let’s learn from their mistake.

    • Anonymous says:

      What, there mistakes of not requiring 2 tests OR exempting locals from testing and taking day trips?
      Maybe it was the mistake of allowing the tests to be 10 days old?

      Other countries have similar requirements to the plan for here and it works but we only focus on the negatives.

      • Anonymous says:

        Name the country that has successfully reopened their borders without bringing the virus back in.

        • Big Freeze says:

          10.32pm Antarctica.

        • Anonymous says:

          You will alway face a risk of bringing it back but what are your going to do?
          Stay closed till there maybe a vaccine?
          Even if there is a vaccine in a year it will be years till the world has vaccinated enough to stop the virus.

          And who wants a vaccine that was rushed and may pose risks I for one will take my chances until a few years have past!

        • Anonymous says:

          Bermuda seems to have found the right balance

    • Anonymous says:

      Here’s been flu vaccines for over 50 years yet we still have the flu so stop trying to sell that idea

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