Sinopharm COVID vaccines allow for greater coverage in remote areas

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The Health Ministry has received 88,000 doses of the 100,000 Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines it purchased to advance the national vaccination campaign and the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony said that this vaccine will allow for greater vaccination coverage in remote areas.

During his daily COVID-19 update on Thursday, he also reminded members of the public that the remaining 12,000 Sinopharm vaccines are expected to arrive in Guyana on Saturday.

“One of the advantages with this particular vaccine is that it does not require the ultra-cold storage or the really cold storage… These are vaccines that can be stored from 2 to 8 degrees (celcius) and we are very happy because it allows us to move them to remote areas as well.”

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony

The administration of vaccines in some of Guyana’s remote areas, such as those in the hinterland, has been constrained by concerns of adequate cold storage capabilities required.

In an attempt to mitigate this challenge, the Ministry of Health attempted to build or upgrade vaccination centres in several regions ahead of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in February, this year.

Communities that do not have these centres received the COVID-19 vaccines through outreach sessions and distribution exercises by their local health workers. In these instances, the vaccines that were stored in freezers at the regional centres were transported using ice boxes filled with dry ice to keep the vaccines cold enough for a short period.

The Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which has been the largest supply of vaccines locally, requires a – 20 degrees storage temperature. Once removed from that storage and thawed, it would have to be utilised or else it would become spoilt.

And, in May, the minister reported that a small amount of these vaccines were spoilt in Gunns village, in Region Nine (Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo)

While explaining the logistics behind the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines in Guyana, the minister had said, “The challenge that we have in the hinterland, vaccines that we generally use in Guyana, the temperature that you have to store them at is usually two to eight degrees celsius.”

He added: “For vaccines like the AstraZeneca vaccine, that is not a problem because we have a network of cold-chain if you like, or places around the country, that can handle two to eight (degrees) vaccines.”

On Thursday, he assured members of the public that the Sinopharm vaccine, like the AstraZeneca, allows for easier storage and distribution to these communities.  Meanwhile, the Health Minister also related that 233,756 people have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines while 110,710 people have received both their first and second doses.

“We are still far away from herd immunity,” Dr. Anthony lamented, urging more people to come out and take their COVID-19 vaccines.

Herd immunity will occur once about 80 per cent of the population is immune to the disease. Vaccination is a way of ensuring immunisation.

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