Children will be vaccinated once Guyana secures Pfizer vaccine – President Ali
…as sod turned for US$20M Marriott Courtyard Hotel
With the Caribbean Community (Caricom) currently in talks with the United States Government over the availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to the region, President Dr Irfaan Ali has promised that Guyana’s share from this donation will be used specifically to immunise its children population.
This commitment by the Head of State comes on the heels of revelations on Friday that at least four children are currently hospitalised with the severe form of the novel coronavirus 2019 disease.
Speaking with reporters on the side lines of the sod-turning ceremony for the new Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Timehri, President Ali disclosed that the discussion between Caricom and the US is still in the preliminary stage.
However, he is optimistic that Guyana would benefit from the US allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to the region
“I can’t say what is coming. I know that we are in discussion at Caricom with the US. The US has committed to giving vaccines to the region… What I can say is that once it is Pfizer, I can tell you this policy now, it will go to the children, starting from 18 and below,” he posited.
According to President Ali, while he is unsure about the amount of jabs the country will receive under this arrangement, he is hopeful that it will “be substantial for Guyana”.
Ali further told reporters that he was extremely concerned about the news of children being infected with severe cases of the virus.
“Every single person that goes into the hospital to me is alarming, especially children… I’m seriously concerned and we’re monitoring it,” he related.
He noted that although children are not as affected as older adults, many still suffer, especially those with underlying health conditions that the virus feeds off of. He said that it will be a plus if the country receives the Pfizer vaccines to protect its children.
“Let us say that we get Pfizer through the US opportunity and we roll out Pfizer for those 18 years and below and we can capture the whole cohort, population for secondary schools that will be exceedingly good for us,” the President stated.
Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony on Friday disclosed that that since March 2020, some 1567 children under the age of 14 have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
This includes 287 children (148 boys and 39 girls) between the ages of one month to four years and 523 children (273 boys and 251 girls) between the ages of five to nine years who were diagnosed with COVID. Additionally, some 756 children (342 boys and 414 girls) between the ages 10 to 14 are the largest group of children to contract the deadly virus.
A research from a 2000-plus sample in 2020 had shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus in children aged 12 through 15.
In late 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed emergency use of the vaccine from age 16. This year the vaccine was given to children in the US from ages 12 to 15.
Currently, the Guyana Government is rolling out its COVID-19 vaccination campaign across the country to persons 18 years and older using the AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sputnik V and Sinopharm jabs. To date, over 234,000 persons have received their first dose vaccine, while more than 112,000 adult persons are fully vaccinated against the deadly virus.
While talks with the US are ongoing at the regional level, President Ali indicated that from the inception, his Administration approached the US Government directly as well as the various manufacturers in the US to access the COVID-19 vaccines being used there. But Guyana was told that the vaccines will not be available until another year or so.
However, US President Joe Biden in May announced that he will share some 80 million COVID-19 vaccines with the rest of the world. Last month, he disclosed that of the first 25 million tranches of doses to be sent overseas, 7 million will go to Latin America and the Caribbean region.
The White House had stated that the initial 25 million doses will be shipped from existing federal stockpiles of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.