$2.1B earmarked for further vaccination rollout; Guyana already received 1M+ vaccines

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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An additional $2.1 billion could be required to secure more COVID-19 vaccines and advance the administration of those vaccines, the Ministry of Finance’s mid-year report has stated.

According to reliable information provided to the News Room, Guyana has already received 1,063,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. This includes vaccines that were both donated and purchased. This figure also includes vaccines that are administered in two doses (the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines) and in single doses (the Johnson and Jonson vaccines).

On Tuesday, the Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony related that Guyana has been aiming to vaccinate about 80 per cent of the targeted population. This means that about 410,469 adults out of an estimate of 512,983 adults and about 58,345 children in the 12 to 17 age group of 72,904 children should be vaccinated.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony

And, Dr, Anthony assured members of the public on several occasions that the country has enough vaccines to administer at least a first dose to every eligible individual. Children aged five to 11 years old are expected to receive vaccines too, once COVID-19 vaccines are approved for their use.

Still, the Mid-year report states: “At the end of the first half, over $2 billion had already been expended, through the national budget, on the COVID-19 vaccination programme and, barring further supply-chain challenges, an additional $2.1 billion could become required to facilitate achieving high levels of immunity within the adult population.”

It is important to note, however, that after the mid-year mark, Guyana received several consignments of the COVID-19 vaccines that were not accounted for in that mid-year report.

Additionally, on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony highlighted that the government is exploring whether additional vaccines, known as booster doses, will be required for some groups of people.

He explained that other countries have found that it is not yet necessary for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccines but added: “We have been studying this problem and we have an expert group of people- local and overseas specialists- who have been giving thought to this matter.”

He said that this expert group will make the necessary recommendations for Guyana but highlighted that the need for third doses “under consideration.”

These third doses, some scientists say, would be necessary to boost the protection offered by the COVID-19 vaccines. Other scientists don’t believe these third doses are necessary as yet.

And Dr. Anthony pointed out that the developers of the US-made Pfizer vaccines have engaged the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on offering a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to people.

Pfizer, like many of the other COVID-19 vaccines used globally, is administered in two doses. But, Pfizer’s developers have related that the level of antibodies (body components that help to fight off infections) offered by these vaccines may wane after about six months.

Cognisant of this, Dr. Anthony said that the FDA approved a third dose of the vaccine for “special categories of people” including very old people who may not have robust immune systems and people whose immune systems have been compromised.

“In other countries, they have looked into this and they thought that it is not necessary for a third dose,” Dr Anthony said.

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