President Ali says Harmon’s call to halt Sputnik-V “selfish”, “political”

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…urges Guyanese to get vaccinated

President Irfaan Ali, in a video message on Thursday evening, deemed “reckless” and “selfish” earlier calls by Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon for the Government to put a hold on the administration of the 200,000 doses of Russian-made Sputnik-V vaccines.

At a press conference, Harmon had raised issues with the vaccine being unapproved by PAHO/WHO and being acquired from Sheik Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who is allegedly embroiled in a vaccine racket.

The Ministry of Health has since denied involvement in illegality while Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, at a press conference on the heels of Harmon’s, discredited the Opposition Leader’s call as ill-informed and detrimental to the country’s journey towards herd immunity.

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Following Dr. At Anthony’s press conference, the President addressed the matter. “If one is to examine the statement by Mr Harmon in relation to the Sputnik vaccine, dissuading Guyanese from taking the Sputnik vaccine, you would find it to be self-serving, shamefully reckless, selfish, and against the interests of Guyana and Guyanese,” he said.

The President said that he has long told Guyanese that his Government will explore all avenues to ensure that the population gets access to vaccination for a hopeful return to normalcy. He said that the Government has approached every vaccine manufacturer and developer directly to source vaccines and has committed to pay the finances necessary to provide the same to the public.

While the Opposition had raised the issue of Guyana paying almost double for the 200,000 doses of Sputnik-V and 100,000 doses of Sinopharm compared to the standard cost outlined by PAHO/WHO, President Ali said that a price should not be placed on protecting the lives of Guyanese.

He also stated that he had previously announced that Guyana was receiving the Sputnik-V vaccine — being utilized by over 74 countries — for US $20 and that every shipment of the vaccine to the country has to comply with the local regulatory approval system before being administered.

He stated: “For Mr.Harmon to try to discredit those efforts; for Mr Harmon to now try to dissuade Guyanese at this important public health juncture of our country is reckless and shameful…I implore Guyanese not to fall prey to the political selfishness of Harmon, not to fall prey to the shameful, recklessness and self-serving interests of Joseph Harmon.”

The President then referenced the late Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) Vice-Chairman Douglas Gittens, who died recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that the Opposition Leader was making the specific remarks “at a time when the country would have lost a close colleague of his in Region Ten”.

The President called on Guyanese to heed the calls of the Ministry of Health and become vaccinated as the issuance of the Sputnik-V vaccine will continue.

“I implore you, please, my Guyanese brothers and sisters, vaccination is an essential part of the struggle against COVID. It protects you, it protects your family, and it gives us an opportunity to get out of this pandemic. Please get vaccinated,” he said.



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