Guyana could get 150,000 single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccines next month
The government has made a down payment of $7.5 million (or US $36,000) to secure 150,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine through the African Union, Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo recently revealed.
On Monday, during his daily COVID-19 update, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony confirmed the purchase and said that the vaccines may arrive sometime next month.
The consignment of Johnson and Johnson vaccines for Guyana is part of shipment of 1.5 million vaccines bought by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) from the African Union. The Union purchased 250 million vaccines and CARICOM was able to secure the 1.5 million doses with the help of Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Unlike the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines that are currently used in the nationwide vaccination rollout, this vaccine requires no “booster” shot.
As such, the 150,000 doses secured can be used to fully immunise 150,000 people against the SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease, COVID-19.
Since it is a single dose vaccine, the Health Minister said that it would be more appropriate for use in the hinterland locations, especially in those hard to reach communities.
He explained that in these communities, the health workers have to remove the vaccines from regional storage locations and travel into communities to distribute the vaccines. Weeks later, when the second or booster dose has to be distributed, the health workers have to go through this process again.
This logistical challenge is complicated even further, according to the health minister, when the Russian Sputnik V vaccine is used, since this vaccine has to be stored in cold temperatures of about -20 degrees celsius.
With this vaccine, the health minister explained that the vaccines must be placed in ice-box containers with dry ice to keep them at the appropropriate temperature. If the dry ice melts and the vaccines remain unused, these vaccines would be spoilt.
Already, a small amount of the COVID-19 vaccines were spoilt after a health team encountered difficulties leaving the Gunns village, in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), where they went to conduct a vaccination outreach.
The Vice-President also recently revealed that the Chinese authorities that made the Sinopharm vaccine have also reached out to the government to possibly supply additional doses. These discussions, according to the Vice-President, are ongoing.