First set of COVID-19 vaccines free for Guyana – Health Minister
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Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony

THE initial set of vaccines which will be used by Guyana to protect against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will be secured free of cost, according to Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony.

Guyana has signed up with COVAX Facility, a global initiative geared at accelerating the development and manufacture of the COVID-19 vaccines, and then providing them in a guaranteed rapid, fair and equitable manner to those countries which need them. COVAX currently has the world’s largest and most diverse portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Anthony, through his daily COVID-19 briefing with the Department of Public Information (DPI), explained on Monday that through COVAX, countries would be pooling their financial resources so that they can pay for the research and manufacture of these resources.

Currently, these vaccines are in the third stage of the clinical trials; only after the trials have been done can it be more definitively said that these vaccines are effective. However, what COVAX has been doing is paying for some of those vaccines even before the trial has been completed, so that manufacturers can scale up the manufacturing process as soon as any one of the vaccines shows positive results.

Though signing up with COVAX carries a fee, Guyana’s costs are being met through GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, which is coordinating COVAX, along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“We have been able to benefit under a different scheme; we were not required to pay, because there are 10 countries in the Caribbean that GAVI is going to pay for, and they will take care of our initial costs,” Dr. Anthony said.

“We are not required to pay, but we will still get vaccines,” he added.

Many other Caribbean countries will not benefit from this, and therefore they will have to pay. Through funding from the European Union, the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), in partnership with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), has secured downpayments to purchase over one million doses of the expected COVID-19 vaccine(s) for Caribbean Member States.

“Since we are already getting ours free, CARPHA is going to help other countries that have to pay for theirs,” Minister Anthony explained.

This initial set of vaccines that Guyana will be receiving for free is expected to cover 20 per cent of the population at the commencement stage of distribution process. (Vishani Ragobeer)

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