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First batch of COVAX vaccine arrives in Guyana

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31,000 Guyanese already vaccinated

Guyana Chronicle – The first batch of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 through the COVAX facility, comprising a quantity of twenty-four thousand doses, were received on Monday morning at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

The COVAX facility is a global mechanism that was created to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. COVAX is made up of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); the Vaccine Alliance Gavi; the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO); the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other stakeholders.

During the initial distribution phase from COVAX, Guyana is expected to receive a total of one hundred thousand, eight hundred doses of vaccine. Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Country Representative to Guyana, Dr. Luis Codina, at the handing over ceremony held at the CJIA, noted that this first delivery will be complemented with the remaining doses expected between April and May.

According to allocation figures on Gavi’s website, fifteen Caribbean countries will receive just over 2.1 million doses of COVAX vaccines by May. Guyana is part of the smaller grouping of Advance Market Commitment (AMC) countries which will receive their first tranche of vaccines for free. Even though the first batch is a small portion of the overall supply of vaccines to be made available to the country through the COVAX facility, it is expected to go a long way to continue the vaccination drive that is currently ongoing.

Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, advisor to the Ministry of Health, who represented the Government of Guyana at the handing over of the vaccines, disclosed that thirty-one thousand individuals residing in Guyana have so far received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Ramsammy, a former Health Minister, noted that with the arrival of the first batch of vaccines through the COVAX facility and the expected arrival of the two hundred thousand doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in a matter of days, it is the government’s intention to inoculate ten thousand persons per day, starting this week.

Further, this week, the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines will be available to those persons who received their first ‘jab’ during the initial stages of vaccination.

“So, Guyana is on the road, we are demonstrating that we are Guyana strong and we are on the road to ensuring that all persons resident within our borders are vaccinated in 2021,” Dr. Ramsammy said.

Dr. Ramsammy commended the COVAX initiative and expressed gratitude on behalf of the government of Guyana to the stakeholders of the initiative for the timely donation.

“The intent [of COVAX] was to ensure that we put a dent in the inequity for vaccine supply. We may not have prevented the inequity but they are aggressive steps being made to ensure that no matter which country, we will be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Dr. Ramsammy said.

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