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…will be free, not mandatory
Guyana expects to receive 3,800 COVID-19 vaccines in February and March through COVAX while China has pledged to donate 20,000 doses to Guyana.
The vaccines will be immediately and preferentially administered to health workers, persons with comorbidities and the elderly. It is free of cost but not mandatory. This was announced on Saturday by President Irfaan Ali during an address to the nation.
There are eight different vaccines being administered around the world. These are Pfizer-BioNTech – which has proven to be 95 per cent effective –, Moderna, Sinopharm-Wuhan, Sinovac, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Sinopharm and Covaxin.
The President said that the world is competing to access these vaccines and Guyana is in this competition. Through COVAX, 20 per cent of vaccines needed for Guyana’s population will be provided free of cost. However, President Ali said that his Government’s aim is to ensure that no Guyanese has to pay for the crucial vaccines.
“Like every other country, big and small, our objective is to obtain a vaccine as soon as possible for our people. In pursuit of this goal, our Government is working with multilateral and bilateral partners and, at the same time, directly negotiating the primary manufacturers of these vaccines to access them for Guyana,” he said.
The Government is also working along with the CARICOM, the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of Islamic Corporation, China, India, Russia and major manufacturers such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca for additional quotas of vaccines.
While the country awaits the vaccines, he said that cold chain infrastructure is being installed for proper storage of the vaccines while personnel are being trained to administer the vaccine.
President Ali said: “I want you to feel confident, to feel certain that when the vaccines arrive and we begin to distribute them, they will have the full approval of the World Health Organisation and will be safe. I will be the first to demonstrate this by signing on to the vaccination programme…these vaccines will not be made mandatory. Although we want to encourage every Guyanese to take the vaccine.”
The Head of State explained that the vaccine, administered widely in Guyana, will help it achieve herd immunity which is critical to fighting the pandemic.