TIMEHRI, Guyana (Monday, March 8, 2021) — Prime Minister, Mark Phillips, expressed gratitude to the Indian government, for its donation to Guyana, of 80,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – Covishield, which were produced in India.
The vaccines arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), yesterday morning, and were immediately handed over to the Prime Minister, by High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr. K.J. Srinivasa.
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, were also at the airport.
The Prime Minister said that the vaccines would assist Guyana, greatly, in phase two 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 stated.
Prime Minister Phillips reiterated 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,” Phillips remarked; adding 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 (GPHC), after Guyana received 3000 doses, as a donation from Barbados.
The Indian High Commissioner, yesterday morning, said 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.
He emphasised that the vaccines were donated in the spirit of friendship and that the Indian government expects nothing in return for the friendly gesture.
“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,” Dr. K.J. Srinivasa explained.
“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.”
The vaccines form part of a 570,000-vaccine donation from India to CARICOM nations. Some 255,000 doses, inclusive of yesterday’s donation, have already been donated across the region.
Dr. K.J Srinivasa said that in 2020, India also donated US$1M to Guyana to upgrade the country’s health infrastructure capabilities.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr. Anthony said 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 2021.
Herd immunity happens when the vast majority of people are immune to the disease, which eventually stops its spread.
“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 revealed.
India is a vaccine powerhouse. It makes approximately 60 percent of the world’s vaccines and is home to half a dozen major manufacturers.