COVAX scales down on promised COVID vaccines but Guyana seeking other options

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Even with a massive reduction in the promised 100,800 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine – AstraZeneca – from the global vaccine facility called COVAX, Guyana is seeking all options to buy vaccines. At the same time, it is pushing ahead with the vaccination rollout with plans to decentralize the service to community health centers and to make teachers eligible for the jab.

On Monday, Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony announced that Guyana will no longer receive the 100,000 doses of vaccines from COVAX and will instead receive less than half of that amount.

He said the latest update from World Health Organization (WHO), COVAX Facility is that Guyana will get just 24,000 doses.

“We received a letter from them a month and a half ago where they promised to send as a first tranche of 100,000 doses of vaccines. They then revised that total and said that they’ll be sending 33,000 doses of vaccines and today I received another letter saying that within the next three weeks that we can expect 24,000 doses of vaccines,” Dr. Anthony said.

He told the media that Guyana is not the only country facing this reduction and singled out Suriname to be among other regional countries that have faced the same fate.

Dr. Anthony assured that Guyana has reached out under other bilateral arrangements to be able to secure vaccines for Guyanese.

He said Guyana is open to purchasing these vaccines.

Meanwhile, in an earlier update he announced that in addition to the few established vaccine sites across the country, the COVID-19 vaccine will soon be made available to several community health centers to be administered at the community level to eligible persons.

It comes as the government ramps up its vaccination drive with more vaccines expected in Guyana soon and with other groups of citizens such as teachers and persons above 50 years up for eligibility in the next round of vaccination.

Already, almost 20,000 Guyanese have been vaccinated using the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines.  This figured includes frontline health workers, persons above 60 years old and keep government and parliamentary figures.

“As of yesterday [Sunday March 21, 2021] we have gotten close to the 20,000-immunization mark. That’s a good number. As roll out this week our plans are to increase vaccination sites,” the Minister said during his daily COVID-19 update on Monday.

He said nurses at the identified health centers have already been trained in administering vaccines and with the provision of additional information, it will be completely safe.

“We anticipate that we will be able to reach more people,” Dr. Anthony added while pointing out that the response from persons 60 years and above has been good.

The Health Minister further added that with an increase in demand for the COVID vaccines Guyana is actively engaged in talks for more vaccines.

In the coming weeks, Guyana would be receiving 50,000 of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, with another 50,000 to arrive each week until the tranche of 200,000 is met.

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