No letting up from the Government on COVID-19

Dear Editor,
This is good news that some 7,000 bivalent COVID shots will arrive in Guyana by the end of this month. According to Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, “The bivalent vaccines are more effective… (and he is) … expecting to have those vaccines by the last week of January.”
On this good note, I remind all that COVID-19 is leaving and will continue to leave a lasting imprint on the world economy, causing permanent changes and teaching important lessons. In fact, the prediction is that virus screening will likely become a part of our life, just like how security measures have become ubiquitous after 9/11. So, according to the Minister, “Once we get those vaccines, we’ll urge people to come out and get the bivalent vaccine.” And why not?
Well, It is indeed safe to receive a COVID-19 vaccine following infection, as vaccination is very important, even if a person has had COVID-19 shots already. While infection alone provides some protection, vaccination after infection helps to improve the immune response, it provides better and longer-lasting protection, and importantly, the evidence indicates that waiting for a period of time, after a COVID-19 infection before getting a booster dose can help improve the overall immune response. Most authorities recommended that patients receive their booster dose 6 months after being tested positive or started having symptoms. However, a shorter interval of at least 3 months may be recommended in some circumstances.
On the local scene, the information to absorb is that “… the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines include a component of the original virus strain, to provide broad protection against COVID-19, and a component of the omicron variant, to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.”
I note that Minister Anthony is urging that citizens capitalise, reminding them that Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Sinopharm vaccines remain available for the population at present. His call is well supported by the World Health Organisation, who continues to implore nations that “… everyone, everywhere, should have access to COVID-19 vaccines.” For their part, “WHO is determined to maintain the momentum for increasing access to COVID-19 vaccines and will continue to support countries in accelerating vaccine delivery, to save lives and prevent people from becoming seriously ill.”
They explained that “Countries should continue to work towards vaccinating at least 70% of their populations, prioritizing the vaccination of 100% of health workers and 100% of the most vulnerable groups, including people who are over 60 years of age and those who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions.” The bottom line is that the Covid 19 issue is still very serious and must be treated as such.
So, I am with Dr Anthony, who explained that “… as cases continue to rise, (the PPP/C) Government is encouraging persons to get their booster shots and still take the necessary precautions.” He iterated that “It is recommended that for persons to get the bivalent vaccines, they should get their primary doses – which means the first and second dose. This is something we will be looking at. Once we get it, we will put out suitable advisories so that people can access these vaccines.”
Editor, it is still possible to get COVID-19 and spread it to others after being vaccinated. Therefore, all must continue to do everything to keep themselves and others healthy. This means to continue keeping a safe distance from others and avoiding crowds, wearing a well-fitting mask covering the mouth and nose, keeping indoor spaces well-ventilated, cleaning hands regularly, and covering coughs and sneezes. There is no place for complacency. So, I too am “… urging persons who have not received their booster doses to visit one of the local vaccination sites and get their booster doses.” Too much is at stake and we know that with Omicron, there are at least 500 different subvariants.

Yours truly,
H. Singh