-Argentina’s vaccination programme shows
GLOBALLY, more and more evidenced-based studies are being conducted to support the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines being used in Guyana, including the Sputnik V from Russia.
Late last week, the reputable Reuter’s news agency reported on the findings of a real-world study conducted by health authorities in Argentina; the data shows that a single dose of Russia’s Sputnik V or the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine reduces mortality from COVID-19 by up to 80% in persons aged 60 and over.
According to the international news house, data released on Friday last involved some 450,000 people beyond the age of 60, who have received one or two doses of either vaccine, which are the most widely used in the Latin American nation.
The country’s Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, a physician, was quoted as saying that the second doses decrease mortality rates by 90 per cent.
“Argentina’s inoculation campaign has been built around the Sputnik V and AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as using Sinopharm and CoviShield shots. The country has vaccinated over 19 million people, of which 3.8 million have received two doses,” the Reuter’s article noted.
It also pointed to the fact that just this week, the country surpassed a coronavirus death toll of 90,000, just as it was trying to recover from its very ‘painful’ second wave of the virus. Argentina currently has one of the highest average daily death tolls in the world, behind only Brazil, India and Colombia.
Further, Vizzotti was reported as saying that the data supported the country’s immunisation strategy of having a 12-week gap between the first and second shots of the vaccine. This was supposedly done in order to cover as much of the country’s at-risk population as possible, with at least the first doses of the vaccines.
“It was an appropriate decision and the results of this study confirm that high protection has been achieved in the vaccinated population,” the Argentine official said.
Argentina is said to have been the first Latin American country to officially register the Sputnik V vaccine under the emergency-use authorisation procedure, with vaccination kicking off from December 29, 2020.
The good news relating to the aforementioned vaccines come at a time when the Government of Guyana is battling to address “reckless” and “baseless” information about the vaccines being peddled by members of the main parliamentary opposition, including Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon.
Earlier in the month the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) member called for a suspension in the administering of the Sputnik V jabs, claiming that it could be fake. Ironically, Harmon has been fully vaccinated with both doses of the said vaccine.
Harmon’s utterances attracted criticisms from many sections of society, including reputable members of the private sector, medical practitioners and government officials. President Dr. Irfaan Ali had described Harmon’s public disapproval of the vaccine as being “shamelessly reckless” and against the interest of Guyanese.
Although baseless, Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony recognised that Harmon’s claims could potentially endanger the lives of many Guyanese, especially supporters of the APNU+AFC who may have had concerns relating to the “jabs.”
Minister Anthony had reported on several occasions that the vaccines have been working; he specifically pointed to the fact that none of the fully vaccinated persons have developed serious symptoms or have died. As has been internationally established, the vaccines do not guard against the virus, but minimises serious illnesses that can lead to death.
Last week, the Ministry of Health released the findings of a preliminary study which showed that members of the Afro-Guyanese community account for the largest demographic of COVID-19 fatalities, which has been pegged at 36.6 per cent.
Coming a close second at 28.2 per cent is the Amerindian community, followed by the Indo-Guyanese community at 23.3 per cent. Bringing up the rear at a mere 11.4 per cent are those persons classified as mixed race.
The foregoing conclusion, the ministry said, was drawn after a preliminary analysis was done on 202 of the 458 persons who have died since the virus hit Guyana in March 2020.
Since December 2019, the novel coronavirus has been wreaking havoc across the world; with more than 3.92 million lives lost so far, the vaccines have been hailed as the only safe way out of the pandemic. Fortunately, Guyana is one of the very few countries that have managed to secure enough “jabs” to immunise its entire adult population.
Notwithstanding the opposition’s position, the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government has pledged to continue its national vaccination efforts, using all of the initially procured vaccines – the Sputnik V, the AstraZeneca and China’ s Sinopharm.