HEALTH Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, has said the government will ensure its frontline workers are first to benefit from the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
Currently, the ministry is in discussion with several countries which are actively pursuing a vaccine.
“We have had initial discussions with the Government of India. Through those discussions we know that India will be working to produce at least one billion doses of vaccines for some time early next year. Once the trial goes through to the phase three trial, that shows it is working, then they [India] will produce one billion doses of vaccines,” Minister Anthony said during Thursday’s COVID-19 update.
Discussions were also held with Argentina. That country is working on producing 250 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, some of which will be made available to countries in South America.
In early September, President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernandez, had discussed regional collaboration and support in the fight against COVID-19.
Since then, Minister Anthony has held follow-up meetings with both the Argentine Health Minister and that country’s Ambassador to Guyana.
“So we will see how those discussions progress. We have also had discussions with the Ambassador here from Russia and as you know, they have one vaccine that right now is in clinical trials in Russia. So, we will see what comes out of the clinical trials and whether we can be able to utilise such vaccines here,” the minister said.
Additionally, Minister Anthony said Guyana can utilise the COVAX Facility for payment. The facility is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need.
“They realise that many countries around the world might not be able to pay for these vaccines, so they have created a financial mechanism where they will work with researchers trying to discover these vaccines, take it through the phase three trial and then work with manufacturers. We have been assured that whatever the cost of the vaccines, through COVAX, that GAVI will cover a substantial portion of those cost for Guyana,” the minister said.
GAVI is a global vaccine alliance which brings together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. GAVI’s support usually goes to the world’s poorest countries, based on national income.
In 2011, Guyana was among four countries in the Americas which began the process of graduating out of GAVI when its gross national income surpassed US$1,500 per capita, the threshold for GAVI eligibility. However, support for immunisation programmes continued as the country remained eligible for GAVI support. (DPI)