EYEWITNESS: The first salvo… against COVID-19


Well, while it mightn’t have been a shot heard across the world, the vaccination of the frontline health workers at the GPHC was certainly heard (and seen) across Guyana! This, of course, was courtesy of the 3000 vaccines generously sent to us by Barbados – from the shipment they’d received from India. While it might appear that Guyanese haven’t been taking this COVID-19 pandemic seriously, part of our nonchalance was merely the stoic indifference to threats we cultivated to survive the Burnhamite hell – the embers of which still smoulder!

But underneath that insouciant swagger, we worried. Who wouldn’t, after reading the daily inexorable climb of the numbers representing fellow Guyanese who became infected and those who finally succumbed to the virus? Worldwide infections are at 108,394,000 and deaths are at 2,380,000 and counting.

For whom does the (COVID-19) bell toll? It certainly seems to be tolling for all of us. But, finally, there is a glimmer of hope – those 1400 shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine that were given to our health workers who have to deal daily with the infected. What happened to the other shots, you ask, dear reader? Well, 200 were for the Caricom staff, and since there will have to be two shots per person for the desired immunity, that gives us the 1400 health workers treated.

So, we have some ways to go, don’t we? We’ve been promised 20% of total coverage from COVAX, the WHO-led consortium that’s leading the fight for some equity in vaccine distribution. This amounts to 104,000 shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine for 52,000 persons.

But who knows when those will arrive? In the meantime, the rich countries are practising “vaccine nationalism”, with Canada, for instance, going to extremes in hoarding and pre-ordering FIVE TIMES THE DOSAGE REQUIRED FOR ITS ENTIRE POPULATION! Canada even had the chutzpah to line up for the COVAX allotment!!

The US and UK follow with securing respectively 4 and 3 times their required doses. Some poor countries won’t get vaccines till 2023. COVAX was supposed to provide an initial 3800 doses by March, and China was supposed to provide 20,000 doses of its SinoPharm vaccine. Also out there are Moderna, Pfizer and the Sputnik Russian version.

For some reason, India – which is leading the world in producing vaccines – is sharing its supplies with its neighbours and countries in Africa and the Caribbean, but hasn’t responded to the direct request from Guyana – as it did for Barbados and Dominica. We’ll be sharing the one million Caribbean doses, we guess.

All in all, what all of this means is that we will just have to buckle up and stand in line for the vaccination.

No use in us getting dispirited. That’ll just lower our autoimmune system and make us more susceptible to COVID-19 infection.

…in energy freedom

In his address to Parliament, President Ali predicted that Guyana is poised to become the Caribbean Energy Centre. He was careful not to say “ATM machine”, as PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar once feared for Trinidad when they were oil producers! Guyana, under Burnham, once (notoriously) literally broke the (Caribbean) Bank after he plunged us into bankruptcy in the 1970s. And TT had to write off hundreds of millions in US dollars when Jagdeo and the PPP were forced to clean up their (PNC) inherited mess.

The point is that, yes, Guyana will have to look at the regional picture in its development thrust for the next decade and beyond. Especially Trinidad, which has so much experience in dealing with an oil economy and the greater financialisation that’ll come in the wake of the huge revenue flows.

But let’s not forget Suriname next door – they also have both oil and experience.
It’s clear that the Southern Caribbean will lead the way to prosperity!

…against Executive Lawlessness

Your Eyewitness agrees with that prolific letter writer who pointed out that the US is showing us the way to protect our democracy from Executive Lawlessness – just as it did on democracy itself.

Impeach them!!