Guyana in talks with India, Russia for Covid-19 vaccines

This picture taken on November 17, 2020 shows a syringe and a bottle reading "Vaccine Covid-19". - According to the World Health Organization, some 42 "candidate vaccines" against the novel coronavirus Covid-19 are undergoing clinical trials on November 17, 2020. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

The Guyana Government is currently locked in talks with officials from India and Russia regarding the possibility of obtaining Covid-19 vaccines being manufactured by both countries.

This is according to Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony.

“We’ve had some bilateral discussions with them [India]. They required some documentations, those documentations have been sent and we’re now awaiting a formal response from the Government of India pertaining to the documents we have sent,” Minister Anthony stated.

“We’re also talking to Russia and the manufacturer of the Sputnik V vaccine and, again, those discussions are ongoing and once we conclude them, we will let the public know.”

Guyana is already poised to benefit from vaccines under the COVAX mechanism, which has already pledged to provide vaccines for 20% of the country’s population.

COVAX has already indicated that, once approval is granted from the World Health Organisation (WHO), it will be sending over 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Guyana.

China has also already committed to donating 20,000 doses of its Sinopharm vaccine.

Under a partnership between CARICOM and the African Union, Guyana can also benefit from 149,000 doses of vaccines. But these will have to be paid for.

The Health Minister said Guyana is also in discussion with a number of companies on the matter of securing vaccines for its population.

He had already stated that the vaccines will not be mandatory but he had encouraged persons to take them. Healthcare workers are expected to be the first to benefit from the vaccines.

According to the Health Minister, depending on the vaccines used, some 70% to 90% of the population needs to be immunised for the country to achieve herd immunity, which is when majority of a given population is immune to a particular disease.

Meanwhile, on the matter of the new virus variants, Minister Anthony said Guyana has not yet received results from samples it sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for analysis.

Ten samples were sent to CARPHA to determine whether the Covid-19 variant has reached Guyana.

The BBC reported that it is suspected that the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants could be much more contagious or easy to catch than earlier versions.

Dr Anthony had previously posited that, if this proves to be true, it could pose a very challenging situation for the local healthcare system.

“If this is more transmissible, then more people are going to get infected,” he highlighted, noting that if this happens, it will put a strain on the hospitals in the country.

“These are going to be the challenges if this variant circulates in our country,” Dr Anthony said.