–Russian manufacturer confirms, Health Ministry calls for public apology from Joseph Harmon
LESS than a week after Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon expressed his belief that the COVID-19 vaccines entering Guyana from Russia could be inauthentic, and discouraged Guyanese from taking the drug, the Ministry of Health on Tuesday released a document from Director-General of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIV), Alexander Chistyakov, dismissing Harmon’s claims. The document, which was a letter issued by Chistyakov, head of the Human Vaccine Limited Liability Company (LLC), which is a subsidiary of the RDIF, confirmed the authenticity of the shipments of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines sold to Guyana by an authorised company called Aurugulf, by providing batch numbers, certificate of analysis, and the packing list, along with the vaccine shipments. According to a statement released by the Health Ministry, the document dismisses the “malicious and reckless” statements made by Harmon that seem to indicate that the vaccines in Guyana may be fake, since the batch numbers issued by the RDIF match those of the vaccines received by the ministry.
The statement also stated: “Mr Harmon has demonstrated that scoring cheap political points trumps the well-being and welfare of the Guyanese people.”
The ministry has since called for Harmon to publicly withdraw his statements, and to issue a public apology to the Guyanese people for the irreparable harm that he has done to the national vaccination programme, the distrust that he has created, and the vaccine hesitancy that he may have caused, which has indirectly put at risk the lives of many Guyanese. Last Thursday, even after becoming fully immunised against the deadly coronavirus, Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon hosted a press conference to express his belief that the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia could be fake, and called for a suspension in the administering of the drug, without any evidence to support his allegations.
Harmon’s call has since attracted a myriad of criticisms from various sections of society, including respected doctors and leading private sector groups, and has even elicited a stern response, deeming the statements “shamefully reckless, selfish, and against the interest of Guyana and Guyanese”, from the President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali.
As the world continues to grapple with the devastating effects of the deadly coronavirus, almost every country has been working overtime to acquire the lifesaving vaccines. Fortunately, Guyana has remained one of the few nations that have been able to acquire enough vaccines to sufficiently immunise a large percentage of its adult population.