Letter: Disappointed with Opposition Leader’s position on vaccines

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Dear Editor,

Over the last week, I have paid keen attention to the issue regarding the procurement of the vaccines with which thousands of Guyanese people like me have gotten vaccinated. I ask that you permit me to share some thoughts which I have on the matter, so that others can become better informed and get themselves vaccinated as well.

Last week in Parliament, Mr Harmon made some comments about the source of the vaccines which were purchased by the Government, and the price at which they were procured. I admit I was very intrigued by his comments, and waited patiently for a response from the Minister of Health and other officials, so that I myself could get some clarity. After tuning in to the Minister of Health’s press conference last Friday, I felt more comfortable knowing that the vaccines were safe and were procured through proper channels, which were available at the time. The clarification which Health Minister Anthony offered was definitely needed, and I am sure other Guyanese felt the same.

According to the many statements, comments and press conferences I focused on recently, the Government initially explored their options with sourcing vaccines from the United States, Europe, and multi-lateral COVAX facility. However, their efforts were futile.

Nevertheless, they recognised the need for Guyanese to have access to the vaccines, hence their efforts to source the vaccines from other suppliers. It was found that the Prince of Dubai, who had visited Guyana, had connections with a source of the vaccine supply. With existing bilateral rapport, the Government requested access to the supply chain, and was readily accommodated. But the disadvantage was that the price which the vaccines were selling for was higher than that of the recommended WHO price.

I fully support the Government’s decision to go ahead with the procurement of the vaccines despite it being more costly, because I personally know how serious this pandemic is. I lost one of my siblings recently to COVID-19, and therefore I know that the only way to prevent losing anyone else is to get vaccinated. The fact that the Government did what they had to do to give us Guyanese access to the vaccines should be commended, rather than criticised.

Therefore, I find it disappointing that the Opposition is going to such lengths to chastise the Government for giving Guyanese access to the vaccines, the very vaccines which they themselves have taken. It would appear that they are politicising the pandemic to gain some sort of cheap political mileage, and that does not sit right with me. In fact, it ought to be condemned by all Guyanese, as their actions are grossly irresponsible.

Respectfully,
Attiya Baksh