–over 180,000 doses by end of March
GUYANA will be receiving 20,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine from China, slated to arrive on Tuesday night at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, East Bank Demerara, while an additional 180,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca will arrive by the end of this month from India and the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility.
This is according to Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, who, in his COVID-19 update on Monday, noted that 80,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are expected to arrive in the country on March 8, 2021, from the Government of India. This means that there will be 100,000 doses that will be available to immunise the population by the second week of March.
Additionally, the COVAX facility is also slated to provide 100,800 doses to Guyana sometime this month; the date is being finalised. Guyana received its first 3,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine via donation from Barbados last month, which was used to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers and employees at the CARICOM Secretariat in Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown.
The additional doses, however, will far surpass the number of frontline workers and, as such, the Ministry of Health has taken the decision to administer the jab to persons categorised as “high risk”, including persons with underlying medical conditions and the elderly.
Dr. Anthony explained that the Health Ministry will be working with the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security to target pensioners to receive the vaccine; the old age pension database will be utilised.
“We’ll have a sense of who those persons are, where they are living and so forth, and we will then be able to use that to reach those persons. The persons with co-morbidities (underlying medical condition), as you would expect, a lot of people would come to our public health facilities and because a lot of people are coming to our services, we would have a list of patients at each of those clinics who are diabetic, or hypertensive or have cardiovascular diseases, or pulmonary diseases, renal diseases.
“We would be able to determine that and, therefore, health centres, district hospitals, regional hospitals, would be able to help us identify, and through that process, we would be able to give those vaccines,” the Health Minister explained.
Minister Anthony reminded that while Guyana will be receiving a significant number of COVID-19 vaccines, the country is still a far way from achieving herd immunity. He explained that between 70 per cent to 80 per cent of Guyana’s 760,000 population would need to be vaccinated, in order to achieve herd immunity. This would require a significantly larger number of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We are still a far way from herd immunity because with the allocation of 200,000 doses, that would mean that only 100,000 persons would be able to be immunised,” Dr. Anthony said.
The vaccines are administered in two doses and must be done weeks apart. Meanwhile, the Health Minister assured that the government is working strategically on more bilateral strategies in an effort to get more vaccines. He noted that once the vaccines arrive in the country, the 35 trained teams will make their way countrywide to administer the vaccines to members of the public.