THE Ministry of Health on Monday received a shipment of 38,400 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX facility at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.
COVAX, a partnership among the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), aims to ensure the equitable global distribution of vaccines against COVID-19.
The shipment is the second delivery from the facility to Guyana, and adds to 24,000 doses of the vaccine which were received on March 29, 2021, a statement released by the Health Ministry confirmed.
According to the first round of COVAX allocations, Guyana is expected to continue receiving doses until it reaches 100,800. Guyana is one of the 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that are receiving vaccines through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) at no cost.
The new shipment is expected to strengthen Guyana’s National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, which is open to all adults 18 years and older. So far, the Ministry of Health has confirmed the vaccination of at least 32 per cent of the adult population, with the aim of achieving herd immunity.
The WHO on its website defines herd immunity, also known as population immunity, as “the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune, either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.”
Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony, was quick to laud COVAX for its continued assistance, noting that the new shipment would augment the previous 24,000 doses.
“The Government of Guyana would like to thank COVAX, which is made up of CEPI, GAVI, WHO, the UN system and all the donor countries, especially the United States, for assisting the low and middle-income countries to get access to vaccines. This is a step in the right direction as we work to end the COVID-19 pandemic globally,” the minister was quoted as saying.
“We are very pleased to receive the second shipment for the country; we are expecting 40,000 doses at the end of this month or early next month. COVAX is a platform aimed to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country like Guyana. The country now has three COVID-19 vaccines available, for the population to access in order to keep them safe and protected,” Dr Luis Codina, PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana added.
Meanwhile, Sarah-Ann Lynch, the U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, said: “I am so pleased about the second COVAX delivery of vaccines to Guyana. You may know that the U.S. is providing the most funding to COVAX of any country in the world— $4 Billion. As President Biden has made clear, the U.S. supports multilateral approaches and will work as a partner to address global challenges. None of us face this threat alone. We must work together to vaccinate as many people as possible.”
UNICEF Representative in Guyana, Nicolas Pron, remarked that the arrival of additional COVID-19 vaccines for Guyana sets the course towards recovery, as more families and communities will have access to the life-saving protection they offer.
“It brings hope for children, who have been out of classrooms and prevented from also playing together due to the pandemic, that soon they may be together again. It also serves as a reminder that health workers, teachers, parents, all who children rely on most in Guyana have the opportunity to take the vaccine and minimise the impact of the pandemic on our children,” he said.
Pron added: “The vaccines are the best hope we have of ending this pandemic and rebuilding our lives. The more people who are vaccinated against COVID-19, the more opportunities and protection for the children who rely on them.”
Guyana previously received 20,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a donation from China and 80,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca as a donation from India. Additionally, Guyana received 3,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from Barbados, which was part of a donation from the Government of India.