Guyana has received a batch of 80,000 doses of the Astra-Zeneca/Oxford vaccine, which was gifted by the Government of India.
The vaccines arrived in the country early this morning at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), where the COVID-19 vaccines were formally handed over to Guyana by Indian High Commissioner Dr. K. J. Srinivasa.
Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, who is also the Coordinator of the National COVID-19 Task Force, along with Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd were also there to receive the jabs.
According to DPI, PM Phillips said that the vaccines will see the continuation of Phase Two of the Government’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase One saw measures being put in place to boost the health care facilities to deal with the spread, tracing and treatment of persons who contracted COVID-19.
Phase Two deals with the vaccination of persons with the frontline workers being the first to be vaccinated. The elderly, Joint Services and teachers will be targeted next.
PM Phillips used the opportunity to appeal to the citizens to take the vaccine once it becomes available to the public. “If you have the vaccine it means you can be guarded against dying from COVID-19, you may contact the virus, but because you have the vaccine it can prevent you from dying from COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Minister Anthony said Guyana is currently in discissions with the Government of India and other partners to see how it can procure more vaccines to meet its COVID-19 vaccination target by year end.
“Indeed, we have been looking at other opportunities to procure more vaccines. With the vaccine we currently have, we have about 100,000 now and that will help us to immunise at least about 50,000 people. And so, this is not going to be enough and so definitely we have able to procure more vaccines,” Dr Anthony said.
He noted that Guyana is also set to receive more than 100,000 vaccines shortly through the COVAX facility.
Minister Todd said that India has been playing a leading role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, and added that Guyana is happy to be included in the country’s vaccination drive.
“This will go a far way for us…As you are aware this is a global pandemic that requires a global approach and India stepped up and used their technology, human capital and they provided a leading role in not only being able to take care of their own population but also recognising that the rest of the world also needs to be treated.”
Indian High Commissioner Dr. Srinivasa said the donation further strengthens the relationship between Guyana and India. He said as of March 1, India has provided 36.37 million vaccines to 35 countries and the UN health workers and peacekeepers.
During the pandemic, the two countries partnered to save lives and ensure medicines and other essential medical supplies were available to Guyana. India extended an assistance of ‘Quick Impact Community for Improving Projects’ fund of US$1 million to the Government of Guyana for improving health infrastructure and capacity in Guyana.
Earlier in the year, Guyana received a donation of 3,000 vaccines from the Government of Barbados. The vaccines were shared between the CARICOM Secretariat, which received 200 doses for 100 people, and the remaining 2,800 for 1,400 frontline health workers. Guyana will also benefit from another 149,000 doses of vaccines through a purchase agreement under the CARICOM-African Union.