Guyana makes submission for COVID-19 vaccine – Health Minister

…32 new COVID-19 cases recorded

Health Minister,
Dr Frank Anthony

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has disclosed that Guyana has already commenced making submissions to COVAX as part of arrangements to secure COVID-19 vaccines.
Guyana has been identified as one of the countries eligible for coverage under COVAX, a body of organisations including the World Health Organization (WHO) that will ensure there is equal access to and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines when it becomes available on the market.
The United Kingdom is preparing to administer the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech this weekend, according to reports. The vaccine, which had undergone a gauntlet of clinical trials and is said to be 95 per cent effective against the coronavirus, is a two-dose injection.
Meanwhile, Pfizer/BioNTech along with Moderna, which has also developed another coronavirus vaccine with a 94.1 per cent efficacy, have both filed for US emergency regulatory approval.
WHO, UNICEF, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) and other partners are currently working together to help prepare countries to be ready to introduce the COVID-19 vaccines, which it said is likely to become available for distribution in early to mid-2021. WHO said adaptable guidance, tools, trainings, and advocacy materials are being developed to support countries in their preparations.
At Guyana’s end, work has commenced to prepare Guyana for vaccines. In fact, a National Vaccine Taskforce has been established to lead this process.
During his COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Dr Anthony said, “We have start working with COVAX to submit some of the things about possible vaccine candidates and our preferences. So those things have gone into COVAX about preferences we will have for vaccines.”
Previously, the Minister had announced that frontline workers and at-risks patients are among government’s priority in getting the COVID-19 vaccine whenever it becomes available.
Only earlier this week, the Guyana Government signed the term of agreement to confirm its inclusion in the COVAX Facility.
The Health Minister is chairing the Taskforce, which he described as a diverse group of experts and specialists to led the preparation and ultimately the distribution of the vaccines locally. These persons are from both the public health sector as well as the private sector, the University of Guyana and the Joint Services among other key stakeholders.
Minister Anthony further posited on Wednesday that the National Vaccine Taskforce is already working on a draft plan to facilitate the vaccines.
“We’ve also started to look at our cold chain and the places where we’re going to store our vaccine. We are working on expanding some of the centres to ensure that we have adequate space and we have started the procurement process to get the type of refrigerators that would be necessary for the COVID-19 vaccine,” he stated.
According to Dr Anthony, the Taskforce has also started developing a training manual for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“So, these are all things that we are working out to ensure that once we have the vaccine in place that we can quickly roll it out,” the Health Minister noted.
Only last week, President Irfaan Ali had urged the United Nations to remain on the forefront of the rollout of the mass immunisation particularly to developing countries.
“This 31st Special Session [of the UN General Assembly] comes at a time when the world eagerly awaits the authorisation of vaccines which have been developed to help in the public health fight against the coronavirus. The United Nations must continue to be in the forefront – as it has been over the past eight months – in piloting the international rollout of mass immunisation for developing countries,” President Ali had stated.
The World Health Organization has said that the COVID-19 vaccines are likely to become available for distribution in early to mid-2021.
Through COVAX, Guyana is set to receive 20 per cent of the COVID-19 vaccine with the first three per cent to be given to frontline workers and high-risk patients.

New cases
As of Wednesday, Guyana recorded 32 new novel coronavirus cases.
According to the Health Ministry’s updated COVID-19 Dashboard, the total number of confirmed cases in the country is now 5,732 – 2,961 males and 2,771 females
Of these, however, only 690 are currently active cases, that is, five patients in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 685 persons in isolation – 47 in institutional isolation and the remaining 638 in home isolation.
There are also 32 persons in institutional quarantine.
Meanwhile, some 4,888 persons have since recovered from the life-threatening virus in Guyana.
To date, a total of 32,782 persons have been tested for the novel coronavirus in Guyana.
Of the 32 new cases recorded on Wednesday, one is from Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); two from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); 11 cases from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); a whopping 17 cases from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and one case from Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
The figures remained the same in Region One (Barima-Waini) with 878 cases; Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) with 42 cases; Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) with 516 cases; Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Essequibo) 389 cases and Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) with 319 cases. (G8)