African Union to donate 149,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Guyana
The African Union (AU) will be making a donation of AstraZeneca vaccines to the Caribbean, with Guyana set to receive 149,000 doses.
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony on Thursday told the National Assembly that this arrangement was brokered through the Caribbean Community (Caricom), paving the way for 1.5 million doses to be donated to the Region.
“Caricom has brokered an arrangement with the African Union. They have set aside 1.5 million doses of vaccines for the Caribbean. Out of that allotment, Guyana’s total is going to be 149, 000 doses. We’re working with that platform to ensure that we’ll also get doses from that mechanism,” he explained.
The AU is a continental body consisting of the 55 countries of the African continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (1963-1999).
The Minister stated that the Government was also in contact with several vaccine manufacturers to acquire additional doses. This way, as soon as the vaccine is granted emergency use listing, Guyana is already on the waiting list for early allotment.
Global vaccine mechanism COVAX is planning to deliver some 104,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Guyana shortly. Presently, the said vaccine is before the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use listing.
The European Union has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use authorisation along with several countries, including India and the United Kingdom. When the vaccine is injected, it causes the immune system to start making antibodies and to attack any coronavirus infection. It is highly effective and can be kept at normal refrigeration temperatures – making it much easier to distribute.
The Government of China has already pledged to donate 20, 000 vaccines, manufactured by Sinopharm.
Through the COVAX mechanism, Guyana will receive 20 per cent of the total vaccines needed to immunise the population at zero cost. Guyana is on a list of countries, including Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Saint Lucia, as well as St Vincent and the Grenadines that automatically qualify to access the Vaccine Alliance.
Minister Anthony had said Government is prepared for the rollout. A total of 35 health teams has undergone training to administer the injections as part of the vaccine deployment plan. The expansion of storage facilities will be completed very shortly.
These arrangements will ensure that the vaccines are at the right temperature when administered. Once the vaccine is successfully delivered to a patient, they will receive an immunisation card. These persons will be kept under observation for a few minutes to ensure that there are no adverse reactions.
Dr Anthony said, “We are prepared and ready so once we start receiving the vaccines, we will be able to deploy them as rapidly as possible and in the safest manner…We have started to make sure that sites in every region are prepared and expanded so that we can store more vaccines and be able to roll that out to the public.”
Once the vaccination programme starts, they will be able to deliver 70,000 vaccines per day across the country. Government has noted that there is no mandatory requirement to take the vaccine, but it is encouraged to reach herd immunity.