Letter: What value does Harmon place on the lives of Guyanese?

Joseph Harmon

Dear Editor,

Can I ask Joe Harmon what value he places on the lives of Guyanese citizens? for instance, how much does Harmon think is too much to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine?

Before answering Harmon’s queries as to the cost of the vaccines to taxpayers, I would wish to commend the Irfaan Ali Administration on the tremendous job performed for the benefit and on behalf of the populace, by providing free vaccines to (so far) over 46% of the population (first dose). Had President Ali prevaricated, the cost to the taxpayers could have been a significantly higher number of lives lost, chaos, and despair as witnessed in other countries.

Harmon quoted a World Health Organization (WHO) price of US$10 per shot of the vaccine; however, the UNICEF COVAX facility has accounted for less than a tenth of the vaccinations done in Guyana to date. The quoted WHO price is, and remains, theoretical.

Guyana found a supplier that provided adequate and available supply; a supplier who arranged extraordinarily difficult charter flights for our vaccines; the logistical and political challenges of getting Russian-manufactured vaccines to Guyana would make for eye-opening reading in itself.

At all times, the Guyanese populace were informed by their Government of the cost of the vaccines (US$17-$24) via various official pronouncements. We, the citizens, have never said the cost was too high. I would have supported the purchase at ten times the price.

Had President Ali been indecisive, less than 30,000 of our citizens would have been able to get vaccinated at this time. No doubt, Joe Harmon and his APNU/AFC elitist cohorts would have been among those demanding special consideration for one of those shots.

As it is, the Ali Administration is on a campaign to encourage citizens to get the vaccines (which are widely available) after a politically motivated and malicious whisper campaign to discredit the vaccines dissuaded persons from taking the life-saving shots. Had political activists not engaged in such destructive practices, Guyana’s vaccination rate would have been over 70% and/or equal to the highest in the world today.

Editor, President Ali and his Administration scoured the world for a supplier to meet our needs, and while Guyana is among the countries with the highest rate of vaccinations in the world, and this country has secured enough vaccines to immunise her population at a time when suppliers were reluctant to engage small countries and the term ‘vaccine apartheid surfaced, Guyana still has some ways to go to achieve the vaunted herd immunity.

I do hope Joe Harmon’s haste to discredit our current reliable supplier does not lead to a situation in which Guyana is considered an unworthy/troublesome customer by that company and other suppliers in the future. The developed countries have also achieved high vaccination rates, and are NOW making promises to assist the less-developed countries with vaccine shots in 2022. Only this week the US was ridiculed by Chinese media for its donation of 80 vials of vaccines to our neighbour Trinidad, despite the dire shortage caused by the Rowley Administration’s reluctance to engage non-WHO endorsed vaccine suppliers.

Thankfully, President Ali did not wait, for it is a wait that would have cost countless lives; lives most of us value more than money… Joe.

Robin Singh