– Guyana engaging ‘Johnson and Johnson’ for ‘one-shot’ vaccine
– President Ali says supply, logistics of vaccines a challenge
By Vishani Ragobeer
GUYANA’S COVID-19 vaccination capacity was further boosted on Monday as an additional 30,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) via the Amerijet International.
A total of 200,000 doses of this Russian vaccine was purchased by Guyana through an arrangement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the cost of US$4M (or more than GY$800M). The vaccine has about a 91.6 per cent efficacy and it is administered in two doses, given 28 days apart.
On Monday, during his daily COVID-19 Update, Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, highlighted that this particular vaccine required cold chain storage at a temperature of about -18 degrees to -20 degrees.
It is important to note, however, that there was a dearth of experience using vaccines that require cold chain storage in Guyana. As such, local health personnel had to receive training on how to administer this Russian vaccine. With this second consignment of the Sputnik V vaccines, the Health Minister posited that there would be a more efficient roll out, since the personnel would be better acquainted.
Additionally, the minister highlighted that as of Monday morning, about 60,172 persons across all 10 administrative regions had received their first dose of one of the three COVID-19 vaccines. In addition to this Sputnik V vaccine, Guyana has also been using the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON
Earlier this year, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali highlighted that it was his Government’s aim to vaccinate the entire adult Guyanese population by the end of 2021. To achieve this target, he affirmed that significant resources would be used to secure vaccines.
On Monday, the Health Minister highlighted that the Government has been engaging other bodies to secure additional vaccines.
“Last week, we had some discussions with Johnson and Johnson to explore the possibility of accessing the vaccine from that particular company,” he highlighted. These discussions with Johnson and Johnson are, however, still in the preliminary stages.
The Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, unlike the other vaccines being used locally, is a one shot vaccine. This vaccine has an efficacy of about 66 per cent, based on the studies from a large international study. In a smaller study, conducted in the United States, the vaccine had an efficacy of 72 per cent.
Meanwhile, at the sidelines of an event on Monday, President Ali lamented that sourcing vaccines has been a challenge owing to the global demand for these commodities.
“Most countries are going through a spike (in COVID-19 cases) so getting the vaccine itself is a great difficulty,” the President said. He added that the production line of some of the more popular vaccines including the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines has become “stressed”.
Even so, he reminded members of the media that Guyana has been able to secure 200,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccines and that the country would be expecting another 200,000 doses subsequently.
Explaining why these Russian vaccines have been arriving in smaller tranches, the President noted that the procurement of the vaccines also present logistical challenges. These challenges include getting specialised air and land transport, cold storage and transporting the supplies in a short period.
“The logistics is a great bugbear and also now it is getting more and more difficult to get supplies,” the President highlighted.