7,000 ‘special’ COVID vaccines coming; Guyana sees increase in severe cases

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Some 7,000 special Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccines are expected to arrive in Guyana in the last week of January.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony during his COVID-19 update on Friday announced that the arrival of the vaccines is timely as the virus changes over time, hence constant uptake of booster doses is important.

“We have ordered Bivalent vaccines from COVAX and we are expecting to receive a shipment by the last week in January and again, once we get those vaccines we will urge people to come out and get the bivalent vaccines,” the Health Minister said.

The special vaccines include a component of the original virus strain to provide broad protection against COVID-19; it also includes a component of the Omicron variant to provide better protection against this variant.

As such, these are called Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines. They were authourised for use as a single booster dose in individuals five years of age and older at least two months after completion of either primary vaccination with any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.

A sample of the special Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccine

Three new COVID related deaths were reported earlier this week and in just 24-hours, a total of 51 new cases were recorded, the minister said.

While this only reflects the number of cases documented by the ministry, Dr Anthony said 17 persons are in the hospital with two persons in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

He emphasised that these figures are concerning and people should take vaccination against the virus seriously.

“One of the trends we are seeing is the cases are going up and we are seeing more hospitalisation and with the hospitalisation, we are seeing people who are coming into the hospital having a severe form of COVID and some of them require ICU care.

“We are seeing more people presenting with cases, especially in the lung and that’s something that we have been tracking,” he further explained.

Notably, a total of 77,100 persons have received their first booster; the uptake of the second booster which is recommended six months after the first stands at 4,682.

Eighty per cent of the population have received their first COVID-19 shot while 70 per cent of the population received their second dose.

According to Dr Anthony, an advisory for persons to be boosted with these special vaccines will be made available.

“Generally, to get the Bivalent vaccine, they [recipients] should have had the primary doses…Although in some countries they are recommending that if the person does not have their primary doses and they come, that you can also start them with the Bivalent vaccines.”

In addition to procuring more vaccines to protect persons from contracting severe forms of the virus, Guyana has returned the vaccination entry requirement but specifically for all passengers two years and older, originating from the People’s Republic of China starting from January 8, 2023.

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