The United Kingdom will be sending 84,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Guyana next week, stimulating the continuation of the national immunisation campaign against COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that the doses reserved for Guyana is from the first batch of 100 million which the UK pledged in order to vaccinate poorer parts of the world urgently. These jabs are expected to arrive in Guyana on August 2.
British High Commissioner Jane Miller, OBE, and Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry, Malcolm Watkins have signed the bilateral agreement to pave the way for this consignment.
Miller was keen to note, “The UK is proud to be supporting the expansion of Guyana’s COVID-19 vaccine programme. We congratulate the Government of Guyana for its determined efforts to roll out this important vaccination – a key step in our exit from all the COVID-19 restrictions we are all having to live through. I encourage everyone to get evidence-based information on the COVID-19 vaccine, get vaccinated and encourage your friends and family to be vaccinated too. It saves lives.”
The UK is donating the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, made by Oxford Biomedica in Oxford and packaged in Wrexham, North Wales. The UK Government said on its website that at least 80 million of the 100 million doses will go to COVAX, with the rest going to countries directly.
“The donations will help meet the pledge that G7 leaders made to vaccinate the world and end the pandemic in 2022. This week’s deployment will help meet the urgent need for vaccines from countries around the world, including in Africa, South East Asia and the Caribbean. These regions are experiencing high levels of COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths.”
Apart from Guyana, agreements were signed with Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Cambodia, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Thailand and Vietnam – amounting to some four million doses.
Foreign Secretary Raab was quoted as saying, “The UK is sending nine million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, the first batch of the 100 million doses we’ve pledged, to get the most vulnerable parts of the world vaccinated as a matter of urgency…We’re doing this to help the most vulnerable, but also because we know we won’t be safe until everyone is safe.”
In the local vaccination campaign, Guyana is using the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sputnik V jabs to inoculate people. Some 62,400 doses of Astra Zeneca vaccines have already been delivered through COVAX, with more to arrive in the near future until 20 per cent of the population is covered.
By next month, a shipment of Johnson and Johnson vaccines will arrive – a State purchase of 150,000 single-dose vaccines through a partnership agreement between the African Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
From the 400,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines purchased by Government from Dubai, over 300,000 doses have arrived. Second doses have been arriving in smaller batches owing the rise of variants and surging cases in other parts of the world. This week, 10,000 second doses of the Russian-made vaccine were the last to arrive.
To ensure sufficient supplies, Government has held bilateral discussions with countries, namely India, China, Russia, the US, the EU, Kuwait and the UAE. In addition, Guyana had bilateral talks with manufacturers AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, SinoPharm, Covaxin, Russian Direct Investment Fund. There were discussions with several multilateral organisations, including the Organisation of the Islamic States, the African Union/Caricom initiative and COVAX. (G12)