As part of aiding Guyana in its fight against the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), 80,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – COVISHIELD, which were produced in India, arrived in the country on Sunday (today) and were handed over by India’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. K.J Srinivasa to the Guyanese Government.
Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips, who officially received the donation on behalf of the PPP/C administration, stated that these vaccines would greatly assist the country in Phase Two (2) of the fight against COVID-19.
“The vaccination will help us in a substantial way as we continue the recently started phase two of dealing with COVID-19. You are aware that in phase one we were able to put measures in place and fortify our health systems to deal with not only the spread, but the tracing and treatment of people who would have contracted the disease… phase two is the vaccination”.
He emphasized that Guyanese should not be fearful of taking the vaccine, but should rather embrace it to reduce their chances of fatality if they contract the virus.
“For every Guyanese let me put it simply, if you have the vaccine it means you can be guarded against dying from COVID-19… while we thank the Government of India for providing the vaccine, it is an opportunity for me to appeal to the Guyanese people to come forward and take the vaccine”.
He noted that the Government would prioritise the vaccination of frontline workers, the elderly, members of the Joint Services and teachers.
The vaccination process in Guyana commenced on February 11, with the distribution of the AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) vaccine, to healthcare workers at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, after Guyana received 3000 doses as a donation from Barbados.
Meanwhile, India’s High Commissioner, Dr K.J Srinivasa stated that the donation of the 80,000 vaccines to Guyana demonstrates India’s commitment as a first responder during times of crisis and marks another milestone in bilateral relations between the two countries.
“The foundation of these donations across the world lies in India’s belief of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning the world is one family. We all have to work together to take care of each other and that is the philosophy behind these donations …. I want to stress that India donates these vaccines demanding nothing in return, we do not ask for any quid-pro-quos, India is doing it in a spirit of collaboration, in a spirit of friendship and in a spirit of helping our friends who require these vaccines across the world”.
These vaccine form part of a 570,000-vaccine donation from India to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations, with about 255,000 doses, inclusive of today’s donation, having already been donated across the Region.
Dr K.J Srinivasa said that in 2020, India also donated US$1M to Guyana t0 upgrade the country’s health infrastructure capabilities.
Additionally, Guyana’s Health Minister, Dr Anthony stated that the Government has also been looking at other avenues to procure additional vaccines to ensure that the country reaches herd immunity before the end of this year.
“We have been looking at other avenues to procure more vaccines, we have about 100,000 now and that will help us to immunise approximately 50,000 people, this is not going to be enough if we want to reach herd immunity by the end of the year…. We have been in discussion with the Government of India to see how we can get some additional vaccines… and we have also been talking to a number of other partners to see whether or not we’ll be able to procure additional vaccines,” Dr Anthony said.