600,000+ people targeted for COVID-19 vaccines

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By Vishani Ragobeer

As attempts are being made to protect the population from the severe effects of the disease, COVID-19, the Ministry of Health is seeking to vaccinate about 600,000 individuals, who account for about 80 per cent of the population, according to the Director of Primary Health Care Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton.

During a recent forum on COVID-19 vaccines, organised by the News Room, Dr Hamilton highlighted that the local COVID-19 vaccination is targeting the adult population of Guyana, in a bid to achieve herd immunity, wherein a significant segment of the population is immune to the disease.

“We have completely decentralised this activity (vaccination) and the regions are the main persons who are pushing the drive now,” Dr. Hamilton said.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health, via a post on its Facebook page, announced that 86,601 individuals received their first dose of one of the three vaccines being administered in all administrative regions. These vaccines are: the Oxford-AstraZeneca, the Sinopharm and the Sputnik V.

Director of Primary Health Care Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton

Dr. Hamilton also noted that it is not a case where any vaccine is better than the other. In fact, she said that all of the vaccines are able to prevent persons from contracting the more severe form of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“At this point in time, we don’t have enough data to say whether these vaccines can prevent completely persons from getting the disease but we have enough data to say that if you are vaccinated, you can be assured that you would not develop the more severe form of the disease and hospitalisation would be reduced significantly,” the Health Director explained.

She added, “Of course you can be infected, but you won’t be as sick.”

Research conducted, however, has shown that each COVID-19 vaccine has a different efficacy; the efficacy, Dr. Hamilton explained, refers to how well the vaccine worked in the controlled, clinical trial setting.

Meanwhile, the actual effectiveness of the vaccines will be determined by how well these vaccines work in the real-world situation, that is, when it is administered in countries on a wider scale.

Clinical trials have found that the Sputnik V vaccine has an efficacy of about 92 per cent, while the Sinopharm vaccine has an efficacy of 79.4 per cent. The efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reached about 82.4 per cent once the second dose is administered after about eight to 12 weeks.

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