Positive COVID patients must recover first before being vaccinated – Health Minister

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Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, on Thursday, said the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine cannot be administered to positive COVID-19 patients as he pledged the best care for those experiencing severe symptoms of the virus.

The clarification from Dr Anthony comes as Guyana closed off Wednesday with 12 patients in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at the Infectious Diseases Hospital and 56 patients in hospitals across the country.

Dr Anthony’s advice is in keeping with a recent request from the World Health Organization (WHO) for recovered COVID-19 patients to hold off on taking the vaccine because of the global scarcity.

Officially, the WHO has advised that vaccination may be offered regardless of a person’s history of symptomatic or asymptomatic infection, although the added protection of vaccinating previously infected individuals is yet to be established.

Currently, available data indicate that symptomatic reinfection within six months after an initial infection is rare.

As Minister Anthony explained, when persons are infected, the body produces antibodies that fight off the virus for several months after infection.

“At that point, there is really no need for the vaccine… it really helps to prevent you from getting the severe form of infection. We want to give healthy people the vaccine so their immune system can develop antibodies. We don’t want to give a sick patient the vaccine because when they recover, they will still have antibodies which can prevent from getting reinfection,” he said during his daily COVID-19 update on Thursday.

He promised, however, that although recovered persons have been asked to hold off from taking the vaccine because of scarcity, once Guyana procures enough vaccine, all citizens will be vaccinated.

Drawing attention to those persons in ICU, the minister said their ailment continues to be managed.

With a dedicated team in the ICU working with patients, Dr Anthony Remdesivir and other steroids medications are being administered to patients. He said they are also being cared for based on other complications that may develop.

On Wednesday, President Irfaan Ali announced that more vaccines would soon arrive in Guyana with plans to expand the vaccination campaign in the new week.

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