— Dr. Anthony says, rubbishes Harmon’s ‘fake vaccine’ claims
MINISTER of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, has assured the nation that all of the COVID-19 vaccines being imported are safe, and that the Opposition Leader’s claims of “fake vaccines” entering the country are unfounded. As a result, the administration will continue its roll out of national vaccination which is critical for Guyana to exit the ongoing pandemic.
On Thursday morning, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)’s Joseph Harmon hosted a press conference, calling on the government to suspend its administering of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia, claiming that it could be fake.
Several government officials and members of the private sector have since called out Harmon for his claims, which they believe have been politically motivated.
“He hasn’t produced any evidence that the vaccine is not safe; [he] hasn’t produced any evidence that the vaccine is not working, but proceeded to make a conclusion that the vaccine is fake,” Dr. Anthony highlighted.
The minister, who is also a medical doctor, has reminded that the Sputnik V vaccine is one of the highest rated in the world, recording an efficacy rate of more than 97 per cent. Dr, Anthony believes that it was reckless of Harmon, who is not a doctor, to pronounce on such matters.
“Since he hasn’t produced any evidence and there is nothing to go by and he is not a medical person, why should we bother with him,” the minister surmised.
He noted however, that because Harmon is the leader of a political party that has a large support base, it was important to set the record straight, especially since the lives of thousands of Guyanese may depend on it.
Dr. Anthony said that he found it to be quite unfortunate that a person who claims to be a leader would “deliberately endanger” the lives of citizens, just to gain political points.
Similar sentiments were also shared by Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy, who moderated a virtual press conference hosted on the National Communications Network (NCN). Also speaking at the forum was Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, who heavily criticised Harmon for jeopardising the outcome of the vaccination programme. Hamilton pointed to the fact that the opposition’s “concerns” went from being the price of the vaccines, then the method of acquisition, and now, its efficacy. “This is straight destructive politics,” Hamilton contended.
APPROVALS ARE IN ORDER
Meanwhile, the Government Analyst – Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) issued a statement on Thursday night, highlighting the administration’s approval protocol for all imported vaccines. “The importation and use of all COVID-19 vaccines followed all established emergency authorisation – protocols for use during a pandemic,” the agency said.
The statement, signed by the GA-FDD’s head, Marlon Cole, indicated that the department would have assessed all vaccines using the guidelines set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that the methods of verification were reliant on Emergency Use Authorisation (EVA) issued by several serious reference authorities. These, he noted, include the United States Food and Drugs Administration (USFDA), the United Kingdom Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), as well as the WHO Emergency Use listing.
“In addition, the department relied on the Caribbean Public Health Agency’s (CARPHA-CRS) reference countries such as Brazil and Argentina for the approval of vaccines that were not approved by the other reference authorities,” the statement noted.
It said too that Emergency Use Authorisations (EUA) were granted upon request as per protocol, and that it details the information of the vaccines that were intended to be imported; this includes the name and address of the manufacturer and supplier.
“Thereafter, the department would have issued a EUL or waiver for importation, in addition to the issuance of an import permit with the name of specific manufacturer, the name of the supplier, the quantity and the name of the vaccine,” the GA-FDD said.
It stated specifically that all approvals were issued in accordance with the Laws of Guyana Food and Drug Act Cap 34:03 and its supporting Regulations 1977 – Regulation 86.
Minister Anthony reminded that so far, Guyana’s vaccination programme has not had any adverse outcome, and that no person who has been vaccinated has died.
Dr. Anthony called on all Guyanese to reject Harmon’s claims, and to get vaccinated as a means of safeguarding themselves and their families. Minister Anthony also pointed to the fact that Harmon’s complaints and calls for suspension have been issued after he himself would have been fully vaccinated.