Gov’t paying US$4M for 200,000 doses of Sputnik vaccine
- Pfizer, Moderna says no vaccine for Guyana until 2022
By Kurt Campbell
Two days after President Irfaan Ali announced that there will be a massive expansion in the local COVID-19 vaccination campaign from next week, he has again assured that no effort will be spared in ensuring that vaccines will be made available for all Guyanese.
In an invited comment on Friday, Dr Ali told the News Room that Guyana will soon receive some 200,000 doses of the Russian made Sputnik vaccine (component one), through an arrangement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The President said the government will be spending US$20 on each dose of the vaccine; this means that a total of US$4M will be expended on this first tranche of component one of the Sputnik vaccine while plans are in train to secure another 200,000 doses of component two.
“It is very expensive but it is an expense we can’t spare. It will call for some adjustment in the budget, but as I said we will not spare any expense in this… we are making the resources available to ensure every Guyanese is vaccinated,” the President told the News Room at the sidelines of an event held at State House on Friday.
Guyana and the UAE are currently finalising the logistics to have the 200,000 doses of component one of the Sputnik arrive here. The President assured that local authorities have already established the supply chain and storage facilities for these vaccines.
He said he has taken on vaccinating the Guyanese population as a personal task and was awake around 2 am on Friday to continue extensive talks to secure more vaccines.
PFIZER, MODERNA SAYS NO VACCINE FOR GUYANA UNTIL 2022
Some disappointing news, however, is that vaccine manufacturers, Moderna and Pfizer, have told Guyana, after great discussion, that it will not be able to sell any vaccines to the country until 2022.
Dr. Ali said while this was not the response Guyana was expecting amid an ambitious plan to vaccinate the majority of the population before the end of the year, the government will continue to engage at the bilateral level on the issue.
Guyana has already received 20,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a donation from China and 80,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca, also as a donation from India. Those vaccines were used to vaccinate almost 30,000 Guyanese to date, including mostly frontline healthcare workers and persons 60 years and above.
Some good news is that the World Health Organization (WHO) has told Guyana that it will receive 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca on Monday from COVAX. This is promising for the country’s expanded vaccination drive although it is down from the initially promised 100,800 doses.
Dr Ali said with registration for persons 40 years and above started already, these vaccines will see a major shift in the country’s vaccination campaign.
The government aims to vaccinate some 10,000 citizens per day.
In order to store and manage the vaccines and execute the task, the Ministry of Health has engaged various private sector players with the capacity to assist in the rollout.
Additionally, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has agreed to make some 400 ranks available to help with expediting the registration of citizens, while persons from local government bodies, civil society, medical and nursing students and the medical brigade of the GDF will be trained to assist in the process.
Persons will also be recruited as volunteers and will be vaccinated as they lend their assistance to the countrywide vaccination drive.
The President made another appeal to the citizenry on Friday to act responsibly in helping the government achieve herd immunity and curbing the spread of the virus.