GEORGETOWN, Guyana (Friday, October 16, 2020) — Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, has announced that the government will ensure its frontline workers are first to benefit from the COVID-19 vaccine, when it becomes available.
He disclosed that currently, the Ministry is in discussion with several countries that are actively pursuing a vaccine.
“We have had initial discussions with the government of India. Through those discussions, we know that India will be working to produce at least one billion doses of vaccines for sometime early next year. Once the trial goes through to the phase three trial, that shows it is working, then they [India] will produce one billion doses of vaccines,” Minister Anthony said, during yesterday’s COVID-19 update.
Discussions were also held with Argentina, which is working on producing 250 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, some of which will be made available to countries in South America, the Health Minister revealed.
In early September, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernandez, had discussed regional collaboration and support in the fight against COVID-19.
Since then, Minister Anthony has held follow-up meetings with both the Argentine Health Minister and that country’s Ambassador to Guyana.
“So we will see how those discussions progress. We have also had discussions with the Ambassador here, from Russia, and as you know, they have one vaccine that, right now, is in clinical trials in Russia. So, we will see what comes out of the clinical trials and whether we can be able to utilise such vaccines here,” the Minister said.
Additionally, Minister Anthony said Guyana can utilise the COVAX Facility for payment. The Facility is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need.
“They realise that many countries, around the world, might not be able to pay for these vaccines, so they have created a financial mechanism, where they will work with researchers trying to discover these vaccines, take it through the phase three trial and then work with manufacturers. We have been assured that whatever the cost of the vaccines, through COVAX, that GAVI will cover a substantial portion of those costs for Guyana,” Dr. Anthony said.
GAVI is a global vaccine alliance that brings together public and private sectors, with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and under-used vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. It’s support usually goes to the world’s poorest countries, based on national income.
In 2011, Guyana was among four countries in the Americas that began the process of graduating out of GAVI, when its gross national income surpassed US$1,500 per capita, the threshold for GAVI eligibility. However, support for immunisation programs continued as the country remained eligible for GAVI support.