Guyana never procured Covid vaccines from illegal entity; Govt rejects Opposition’s claims


Statement from the Ministry of Health 

The Ministry of Health will not be derailed in our efforts to vaccinate all adults

By any standards, the Guyana COVID-19 Vaccination program has been successful so far. As of June 15, 2021, Guyana has vaccinated 223,659 persons (46% of the adult population) with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. Guyana has also fully vaccinated 92,157 persons (17% of the adult population) against COVID-19. At this moment, Guyana ranked as the country with the most vaccination in CARICOM, ahead of all countries in this region with populations above 600,000 people.

The President of Guyana, H.E Mohamed Irfaan Ali, has mandated that the Ministry of Health strive to vaccinate all adults by the end of 2021. In this regard, the Government of Guyana will not be distracted in its effort to ensure Guyana attains fully-vaccinated status for adults in 2021. The Government of Guyana has reiterated on many occasions that Guyana will not be deterred by vaccine price or other barriers. The Government has declared that it will invest as necessary to protect the Guyanese people.

Guyana is on the path to securing adequate COVID-19 vaccines to immunize all adult persons living in Guyana in 2021. To ensure sufficient supplies, the Ministry of Health held bilateral discussions with countries, namely India, China, Russia, the US, the EU, Kuwait and the UAE. In addition, Guyana had bilateral talks with manufacturers AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, SinoPharm, Covaxin, Russian Direct Investment Fund. We also discussed several multilateral organizations, including the Organization of the Islamic States, the African Union/Caricom initiative and COVAX.

In all these engagements, it became clear that Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson were not in a position to supply vaccines to Guyana in 2021. However, Johnson and Johnson indicated that their timeline could be shifted to the 4th quarter of 2021. It became clear that any vaccine available will be from COVAX, India, China and Russia.

Guyana was not willing to wait on Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. Clearly, for immediate vaccination of the Guyanese people, our immediate reaction was to seek other options. Under these circumstances, Guyana approached countries like China, Russia, and India to seek direct procurement. These discussions are still ongoing and resulted in an agreement with China for 100,000 doses. It was during these discussions that an opportunity to procure 400,000 doses of Sputnik through the UAE presented itself. Guyana took the opportunity to procure Sputnik vaccines under this arrangement while keeping our options open for procurement from other sources.

So far, Guyana has been able to secure vaccines from the following sources:

  • COVAX – Guyana is a signatory in the COVAX agreement and has received so far 62,400 doses of Astra Zeneca Vaccine
  • Barbados – Guyana received 3,000 doses of AstraZeneca as a donation from Barbados
  • China – Guyana received 20,000 Sinopharm doses of vaccines as a donation from China
  • India – Guyana received 80,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India. {Note that Guyana, in turn, donated 5,000 doses of this vaccine to Barbados].
  • Guyana procured 400,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines from Dubai. [Note Guyana has received 305,000 doses of this so far. Guyana expects to receive 95,000 doses of Sputnik vaccines from this procurement to arrive in Guyana soon
  • China – Guyana has procured 100,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines from China and expect to receive this shipment within the next two weeks.
  • African Union/CARICOM Agreement – Guyana is part of an AU/CARICOM Agreement to purchase vaccines from the AU. In this procurement arrangement, Guyana is procuring 148,000 doses of vaccines. A portion of this will be made up of Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

Guyana opted to buy vaccines to complement the donations received and ensure that we have an adequate supply of vaccines for every adult. Guyana has purchased the following vaccines through direct procurement:

  • Sputnik V vaccines – the Office of Admed Dalmook Al Maktoum
  • Johnson and Johnson and other vaccines – African Union
  • SinoPharm vaccines – Sinopharm.

At no time did Guyana procure vaccines from any illegal entity or anyone in trouble with legal authorities anywhere. At no time did Guyana access vaccines secretly from anyone. In every instance, the Ministry of Health has followed the established process and has established legally binding contracts to ensure the timely delivery of these vaccines.

Guyana has always announced prices we have paid whenever we have procured vaccines. The Minister of Health has made pronouncements on prices in and out of Parliament. His Excellency President Irfaan Ali has also announced prices Guyana has paid. It has never been a secret that Guyana paid $US22 per dose of the Sputnik V vaccine and $US17 per dose of Sinopharm. These prices include all associated cost, including ground and air transport.

The Ministry of Health rejects the Leader of the Opposition’s malicious statement, which is intended to add to the whisper campaign in communities to slow down the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.  We note the Leader of the Opposition’s statement on June 15. We are disappointed that the Leader of the Opposition believes that the price Guyana paid for Sputnik V vaccines is overpriced. When he admitted in parliament that he could not get a better price, the Ministry of Health will never believe that saving the lives of our people is an overpriced option. Guyana has sought to procure directly from the Russian Sovereign Fund, but with no firm commitments on a delivery schedule, Guyana opted to utilize a supplier. It was a good investment for our people at the time. It remains a good investment at this time. The Ministry of Health has no apologies in this regard.

This indicates what would have happened had the Leader of the Opposition still been in Government – our people would not have had access to vaccines. The Opposition Leader has openly declared that in vaccinating 223,659 persons with a first dose and the 92,157 fully vaccinated persons so far, the price paid was not worth it. No one that is fully vaccinated in Guyana has ended up in the ICU; none has died. This investment in our people is entirely worth it.

The Ministry of Health has followed the SOPs for procurement, always obtaining NPTAB approval for procurement. In terms of the single-sourcing of vaccines, there is no availability from different sources that permit open tendering. Guyana has sought to procure from any of the entities or countries with vaccines approved for use in those countries. We will continue to do so and procure vaccines from sources with authentic availability.

Guyana has not procured vaccines from any illegal source as far as Mr Harmon’s claim that the Government procured vaccines from any international fraudster; this is blatantly false. We are not aware of, have not seen any evidence, and none was presented by the Leader of the Opposition, or any other person or entities, that show Sheik Al Maktoum is an international fraudster or wanted in any country.

The Ministry of Health rejects the Leader of the Opposition’s mischievous and malicious attempt to derail the COVID-19 vaccination program in Guyana. Instead, we will again encourage him, stop his divisiveness, stop undermining the vaccination drive, and ask that he encourage everyone to take their vaccines.