With cases at ‘lowest level’, Guyana gets first shipment of COVID pills

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Three years after Guyana recorded its first COVID-19 infection and death, the country has finally been able to secure more than 5,000 paxlovid COVID-19 pills worth $100 million.

The pills – 151,200 in number- were donated to Guyana by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). These pills cater to 5,040 patients since each patient in need will get 30 pills (six daily for five days).

And these pills, Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony said on Monday, will be used to treat all patients diagnosed with the disease COVID-19.

“It’s really an antiviral medication.

“At critical points in the life cycle of the virus, it would interrupt that life cycle and prevent the virus from replicating,” Dr. Anthony told reporters at a handing over ceremony held at his Brickdam, Georgetown, office.

He believes these pills are “quite effective” and can be used to slash a patient’s recovery time. The Health Minister also believes that the pills will help to decrease the incidence of long COVID.

The paxlovid COVID-19 pills donated to Guyana (Photo: Ministry of Health/ March 13, 2023)

Guyana has been trying to secure these pills for months.

UNICEF Guyana Deputy Representative Irfan Akhtar acknowledged the challenges low and middle-income countries experienced while trying to get these potentially life-saving pills.

Monday’s donation comes as the country passed its third COVID-19 anniversary. The first known infection and death was recorded on March 11, 2020.

Though the Health Minister believes the country has been able to improve COVID-19 management over the years, he posited that these pills will advance COVID care.

“This was something we did not have before,” he said, assuring Guyanese that batches will be dispatched to every region so that the benefits are widespread.

COVID-19 cases across the country are, however, dwindling.

According to the Health Minister, there are only 13 active cases across the country. Three new infections were recorded at the weekend. Moreover, there are no critically ill patients in the National Infectious Diseases Hospital (commonly called the COVID hospital) at Liliendaan, Georgetown.

There has not been a huge spike in COVID infections this year, according to official statistics provided by the Ministry of Health.

Based on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard issued to the media on January 06, the country recorded a total of 72,397 infections since March 2020. By March 10, the last issued dashboard, that number increased to 73,086 infections.

That means 689 cases were recorded during that period.

“It’s at the lowest level we have seen so far,” Dr. Anthony said.

With the paxlovid pills, Dr. Anthony believes that Guyana’s efforts at managing the disease will continuously improve.

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