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– Dr. Carpen
By Svetlana Marshall
Head of Medical Services at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Dr. Mahendra Carpen said Guyana would need approximately 300,000 vaccines to safeguard citizens from the deadly Coronavirus Disease (COVID).
“We, in Guyana with our population of 800,000 persons, would probably need a total of about 250,000 to 300,000 persons to be vaccinated in order for us to achieve what is known as herd immunity,” Dr. Carpen told Village Voice News in a recent interview.
According to Mayo Clinic, herd immunity occurs when a significant portion of a population becomes immune to an infectious disease, thereby limiting the spread of the disease.
With Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech seeking to have their vaccines receive emergency regulatory approval in the US, the Guyana Government, is optimistic that through the international vaccine alliance mechanism – COVAX – the country will have access to one or both of the vaccines.
“We are going to be aggressively pursuing as many doses as possible, and they are going to come probably from more than one source, so that we are able to cover more persons in the population,” Dr. Carpen said.
Through COVAX, Guyana is expected to receive 20 per cent of the COVID-19 vaccine, of which the first three per cent will be given to frontline workers and those high-risk patients. “We are going to pick those who are vulnerable more so to mortality rather than the general population,” Dr. Carpen explained, while adding that frontline workers would be prioritised as well.
This week the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to authorise a Covid-19 vaccine, paving the way for vaccination to commence next week.
In an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony said steps are being taken to acquire proper storage units for when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.
“We have been in that process of procurement to get those freezers and of course we have to train our healthcare staff to be able to administer the vaccine, so, we have started the preparatory work for that training, developing the manuals for training and so forth,” the minister said.
That training is expected to begin within a couple of weeks.
“While we wait on COVAX to acquire those vaccines for us, we are also preparing internally and making sure that we are ready for whenever the vaccine is available, so that we can also quickly roll it out,” he said.
The Pfizer vaccine requires very cold storage, minus 70 degrees, while Moderna can be stored in regular home refrigerating temperatures.
“That can create some logistical challenges for the people doing the immunisation, so we are improving our cold storage, expanding that cool storage. In some cases, we have to add new storage rooms and things like that,” Dr. Anthony told DPI.
According to statistical a report provided by the Health Ministry on Thursday, Guyana has 5,528 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, of which 79 are new cases. Currently, there are four person in the COVID-19 ICU while 43 persons are in institutional isolation and another 712 in home isolation.
To date, 5,618 persons have recovered from the disease, however, 151 persons have succumbed. A total of 31, 040 persons have been tested for the virus in Guyana since it was first recorded here in March, 2020.