The Guyana Government is looking to augment storage facilities for its quota of COVID-19 vaccines, as a second experimental vaccine has yielded promising results.
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony explained that Guyana will first access 3% of a COVID-19 vaccine, followed by 20% at a later date, through the COVAX facility.
US drug company Moderna on Monday announced that an experimental vaccine against COVID-19, the mRNA-1273 from Biotech has shown that it is nearly 94.5% effective. This vaccine can be stored in a standard refrigerator with temperatures of 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 days.
“The other interesting thing with the Moderna vaccine is that they are saying that if you store at minus 20, you can keep those vaccines for as long as six months, and if you have the fridge and freezers that we normally use at home, then we will be able to store the vaccine in those conditions for 30 days, which is in keeping with our existing cold chain that we have [in Guyana],” Dr. Anthony said in his Monday COVID-19 update.
Moderna’s announcement followed closely on the heels of an announcement by Pfizer that its vaccine has shown 90 per cent protection against the virus. However, the Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at very cold temperatures of minus 70 t0 80 degrees.
“The challenge would have been and still is, you would need refrigerators to store these vaccines at minus 80 [degrees] and that’s going to pose a challenge because in our cold chain network in Guyana, we don’t have such refrigerators. So, if we are getting those types of vaccines, it would mean that we have to buy these refrigerators and put that type of infrastructure in place,” the Health Minister said.
Dr. Anthony said the Government is prepared to do what is necessary should the Pfizer vaccine become available.
“We will have to review and I’m sure we will be able to. If it’s necessary, we will be able to buy those refrigerators.”
The Minister said the Government was optimistic about the Moderna vaccine; however, it will rely on the COVAX arrangement to secure Guyana’s allocation. In the meantime, it will take the necessary steps to ensure proper storage is in place when the vaccines become available.