60,000 doses Sputnik V vaccine to arrive next week; 38,000 from COVAX expected later this month

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An incoming consignment of 60,000 Sputnik V vaccines is expected to arrive next week – the fourth batch of doses that were sent to satisfy Guyana’s purchase of US$4 million.

Previously, the country had already received separate tranches of the Russian-manufactured vaccines, amounting to 130,000 shots. Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony disclosed on Friday that another 38,000 vaccines from the COVAX facility will also arrive later this month.

COVAX had promised to deliver vaccines to cover 20 per cent of the population at zero cost, and had already sent 24,000 doses earlier this year.

“Next week, we’re expecting a shipment of vaccines, the ones that we bought. So, we’re expecting more Sputnik V to come in next week. We’re also expecting if all goes well, another shipment of vaccines from COVAX but we’re awaiting the final date for that…For Sputnik V, we’re looking at about 60,000 doses and for the COVAX, we’re looking at 38,000 doses,” the Minister indicated.

Guyana has also used 80,000 AstraZeneca and 20,000 Sinopharm doses from the Indian and Chinese Governments respectively, as well as 3000 from Barbados.

In a briefing on Thursday, the Minister said there is a challenge in rolling out the Sputnik V jabs, owing to the specific temperature range in which it must be stored. Nevertheless, healthcare workers have been pushing to ensure that all are vaccinated, even in remote communities.

“Right now, the backbone of our programme has been using the Sputnik V. One of the challenges you do have when you’re using a vaccine like Sputnik V is that it’s -18 to -20 [degrees celsuis] and therefore it creates a lot of logistical problems for us; keeping these vaccines cold, getting it out to some of the most remote areas. Nevertheless, we have been working and have so far been doing that.”

It was specified that vaccine shortage is not a concern for Guyana, as there are adequate supplies to continue the vaccination campaign. In fact, the main issue is persons coming forward to take the shots.

“We have ordered Sputnik V for 400,000 people. With that 400,000 persons, we are actually going to get 400,000 first doses and 400,000 of the second doses. That’s coming in batches so as we get them, we’re vaccinating…We have enough vaccines on order and those that are in country. We feel assured that we’ll be able to give to every single Guyanese adult, a vaccine. What we want to do now is make sure people come forward and get their vaccines. Vaccines for us is not the issue. It is making sure people come and get their vaccine,” Dr Anthony shared.

The Ministry has been working to combat vaccine hesitancy in some communities. These myths, he said, have affected the uptake and there is need to dispel such insinuations.

“Unfortunately, we have seen in some communities there has been vaccine hesitancy because of all kinds of myths. That’s one of the areas that we really need some help to dispel those myths so people can come forward and get their vaccines.”

The data shows that Regions Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) have the lowest vaccination coverage in the country – an occurrence which President Irfaan Ali raised his concerns about this week.

In total, the country’s campaign has exceeded 154,000 first doses and 7000 second doses. This represents approximately 31 per cent of the adult population.