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President Irfaan Ali has promised to allocate all of the US Covid-19 vaccines to children, if the country receives Pfizer-BioNTech.
Ali made the comments even as the country continues to struggle to contain the spread of the virus, with mounting deaths across the regions. Government is set to reopen public schools in September and with many parents fearful about the safety of their children, Ali’s announcement that the WHO-approved vaccines will go towards children might boost confidence a little.
Speaking to members of the media Feiday afternoon on the sideline of a sod turning ceremony for the new Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Timehri, the Head of State said that he is optimistic that Guyana would benefit from vaccines from the US.
“I can’t say what is coming, I know that we are in discussion at CARICOM with the US. The US has committed to giving vaccines to the region.”
The President said that although he is unsure about the amount, he is hopeful that it will “be substantial for Guyana”.
“What I can say is that once it is Pfizer, I can tell you this policy now, it will go to the children, starting from 18 and below.”
In May, US President Joe Biden announced that he will share 80M vaccines with the rest of the world. Last month he disclosed that of the first 25M tranches of doses to be sent overseas, 7M of those will go to Latin America and the Caribbean.
The White House had stated that the initial 25M doses will be shipped from existing federal stockpiles of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.
A research from a 2000 plus sample size in 2020 had shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 100% effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus in children ages 12 through 15.
In late 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed emergency use of the vaccine from age 16. This year the vaccine was given to children in the US from ages 12 to 15.
Meanwhile, President Ali told reporters that he was extremely concerned about the news of children being infected with severe cases of the virus.
“Every single person that goes into the hospital to me is alarming, especially children.”
He noted that although children are not as affected as older adults, many still suffer, especially those with underlying issues. He said that it will be a plus if the country receives the Pfizer vaccines to protect them all.
“Let us say that we get Pfizer through the US opportunity and we roll out Pfizer for those 18 and below and we can capture the whole cohort, population, for secondary schools that will be very good for us.”
According to the Ministry of Health, of the 20,000 plus COVID-19 cases in Guyana, almost 1600 have been children under-14.