The Shadow Health Minister of the opposition APNU+AFC, Dr Karen Cummings on Monday reiterated the party’s official position that vaccines are the most effective tool to prevent and curb the rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus.
As Guyana is grappling with a third wave of the virus, Dr Cummings addressed the nation on Monday and sought to reassure people to take the vaccines being offered by the government.
“We in the APNU+AFC Coalition continue to reiterate that vaccines provide a powerful and public health tool to prevent serious infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
“We restate that the PPP regime must ensure that vaccines are accessible to all Guyanese. We strongly recommend that there be more testing for COVID-19,” Dr Cummings said in the national address which was posted to the party’s official Facebook page.
The APNU+AFC’s position appears to be in stark contrast to its member and Region Ten Parliament representative, Jermaine Figueira, who on Sunday, reportedly sought to dispel the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.
As a matter of fact, Figueira, during a Zoom meeting with residents of Region 10, advocated the use of herbal remedies to treat persons infected with the deadly virus.
“We have a number of Guyanese who would have contracted COVID; they used other forms of remedies – local, herbal remedies – and they recovered. Bonafide testimonies of persons who were infected with COVID and they recovered….
“What is in those remedies? We have scientists. Can those scientists take into consideration what these people would have used and probably have the population also consider that option to protect them from COVID?” Figueira contended.
While Dr Cummings on Monday took note of the alarming increase in deaths and hospitalisation of persons infected with the virus, Figueira on the other hand, believes that the government is blowing the numbers out of proportion.
“The majority of people who support businesses in Region 10 are unvaccinated and the rate of persons being hospitalised and the death toll is not as significant as the PPP is making it out to be,” Figueira lamented during the Zoom meeting.
Despite a global shortage, the Guyana Government has sourced thousands of vaccine doses to reach herd immunity here but a misinformation campaign by the APNU+AFC against the use of the vaccine has resulted in much hesitancy. As a matter of fact, Region Ten – a stronghold of the APNU+AFC – is the region with the lowest vaccination rate across the country.
Only recently, the United States (US) has donated 146,250 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to Guyana, which will be used to immunise children aged 12 to 18 years from the disease. Other vaccines being offered here are AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Johnson and Johnson and Sputnik V.
The Guyana Government has since implemented new measures which require that adults are vaccinated in order to access public buildings and most private buildings that members of the public have lawful access to, including learning institutions; this also includes places of worship, supermarkets, stores, banks and other commercial places.
For unvaccinated people seeking to enter these buildings, an appointment must be made and those people must produce a negative result from a PCR COVID-19 test taken within seven days of the appointment. These PCR tests must be done at a private facility approved by the Ministry of Health and costs about $20,000.