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Announcement by the Government that the COVID-19 vaccination exercise is resulting in more people being vaccinated is encouraging given the urging by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Guyana has been the beneficiary of donated vaccines from several sources, including the WHO’s COVAX-run programme, Barbados, Russia and India. Thus far the indicators are countries and companies are joining with the WHO in sharing excess supply to other countries in the effort to control the global pandemic.
But a look at the actual management of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Guyana tells a different story. It is a story of increasing infections, deaths and more persons infected with the virus having to rely on ventilators to breathe. Guyana is presently not taking an aggressive proactive/preventative approach in fighting the disease. Vaccination is all well and good, and has its place in realising herd immunity if at least 70 percent of the population is vaccinated. This is based on scientific authorities such as the WHO and United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Infection (CDC).
These named organisations have also warned that vaccination is not a prevention of the virus but has the effect of minimising symptoms associated with contracting the virus. They continue to urge persons to observe social distancing, wear masks and wash their hands with soap and water, or disinfect with hand sanitizers. Something is going seriously wrong in Guyana that our numbers continue to go in the wrong direction. The government also seems not to know why, isn’t admitting why and/or isn’t doing enough to scale back the escalation.
Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), on Wednesday April 14, hinted that the surge in COVID-19 cases in Guyana is possibly due to new variants of the potentially deadly virus. A week prior Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, said he is unclear if there is any new variant in Guyana. Something is wrong with the Minister’s understanding and that of PAHO about what a contributing factor for the spread could be. This is not a good sign given the deadly nature of the virus and long-term health complications for those who have contracted the disease.
The information by the Minister and PAHO does not ally fears the government is doing its best in handling the pandemic. People will understandably be skeptical and are less likely in trusting information coming from the government. Beating COVID-19 is not only about vaccination but also prevention and taking national approaches in achieving these. This is a global pandemic, and everyone should be involved. These are facts being advocated for implementation by all the international health organisations yet Guyana continues to see selective compliance and adherence.
Some organisations, including this publication, have been calling on citizens to observe all guidelines relating to COVID-19. This call is intensifying and rather than it be a separate approach better could be achieved when coordinated through national action led by the government. The government continues to fall short in critical areas that could help Guyana beat the virus and save lives.