Home Letters Wise to get more vaccines and measure their efficacy
It is welcomed news that anti-COVID vaccines are coming to Guyana soon as announced by the President (Jan 31) – 3800 Covax of WHO (likely from Serum Institute of Pune, India) and 20K Sinovac (Chinese). It is a political achievement of the Government at a time when it is most difficult to get vaccines even in a developed country like America or the continent of Europe. A word of caution for the health authorities of Guyana on both vaccines – efficacy and safety information are not widely known. Surveillance of the vaccines is not known. Also, side effects are unknown. Questions are raised on how many years is one immunised with two doses and how long will the immunity last.
While the vaccines were tested and affirmed in the respective countries for efficacy, a recipient country like Guyana should monitor the efficacy and effects of the vaccines among Guyanese. Conditions are different in each country and efficacy may also be different. People have expressed fear about some of the vaccines. We are plying in the dark about some vaccines. In such a situation, our planning for the vaccine and for the economy as a whole is defective. When we don’t plan well, we can’t perform effectively. When we don’t perform, our economy declines.
Some science is missing about the vaccines. Since some studies on vaccine efficacy (Covax, Sinovac, Sputnik, Covaxin) are not publicly known (only told they are above 50 per cent), they are not very trusted in the West and India. I have not been in a Biochem lab for some forty years. So I am rusty on my science knowledge on the efficacy of tests. But I do know that 50 per cent efficacy is better than no vaccine.
The four vaccines noted above are being administered to millions and are not found to be life-threatening. The Covaxin, for example, was given to almost two million in India without side effects. What is needed is data on infection following any vaccine to determine if it really inoculates someone from the virus. Experts say the immunity of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, being given in the US, kicks in about a month after receiving the dose. India’s Covaxin and Covishield kick in after two weeks.
Since the number of COVID cases in India is rapidly declining suggesting herd immunity, India may not need as many vaccines as originally thought for her 1.4 billion people. In such a situation, India may increase exports of her two vaccines, Covishield or Covaxin, both of which can be stored at normal refrigeration as opposed to Sinovac which must be stored at low temperature. Guyana should order Covaxin and or Covishield since the expected 24,000 doses slated for Guyana will hardly vaccinate 12,000 of our population of 800K.
Regardless of the vaccine administered in Guyana, it is wise to get more vaccines and measure their efficacy – monitor or confirm the effects of how well vaccines work among Guyanese.