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—16% of deaths in August was partially vaccinated
—80,000 plus persons still awaiting second jab
Approximately 80,000 people in Guyana are still awaiting their second dose of the Sputnik V vaccine and persons have begun to question whether some of these form part of the percentage of partially vaccinated persons that have died.
Last week businessman, Maxwell Thomas died from Covid-19 at the Infectious Disease Hospital. His relatives told the media that he had gotten the first dose of the vaccine. Several other persons who only took one shot of the vaccines have died, but the Ministry of Health has not provided data on how many of those persons were actually awaiting the second dose of the controversial Sputnik V vaccine.
According to data on ICU admissions provided by Senior Head of Internal Medicine and Cardiology at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Dr. Mahender Carpen, 3 percent of COVID-19 ICU deaths recorded in July 2021 represented those partially vaccinated.
Meanwhile, of the COVID-19 ICU deaths recorded in July, 3 percent were persons fully vaccinated and 94 percent were unvaccinated. Dr. Carpen also provided similar data for August 2021. Of the COVID-19 ICU deaths that month, 16 percent were partially vaccinated, 3 percent were fully vaccinated and 81 percent were unvaccinated.
As of September 13, the MOH began providing information in its daily updates on whether persons who died from COVID-19 were vaccinated, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
While such data could be consistently expected from September 13, the Ministry also provided additional data on individual deaths unrecorded in the previous week.
Thus far, at least four partially vaccinated persons died between September 13-17. All were males between the ages of 52-69. Three were from Region Four and one from Region Three.
At least three fully vaccinated persons have died between September 12 -17, 2021.
The fully vaccinated persons who died were all in their 70s and from Region Four. They include a 73-year-old male, a 70-year-old woman who had a known history of comorbidities, and a 79-year-old male. In addition, from September 13 to 17, approximately 9 unvaccinated persons have died from COVID-19.
As it stands, the Ministry of Health is still awaiting second doses of Sputnik V for some 80,000 people. There is no data made available that indicates whether those partially vaccinated that have died were among those eagerly awaiting their second dose of Sputnik V. There is also no data made available that indicates whether those partially vaccinated that have died were awaiting a second dose of any vaccine or had failed to return for their second dose.
There is no data provided by health authorities in general on how many have taken a particular type of vaccine and on what vaccines were taken by those vaccinated and partially vaccinated that have died. In a recent COVID-19 update, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, assured that people awaiting their second dose of Sputnik-V can wait up to 180 days or six months for the vaccine to be administered without harm.
“I would encourage people to continue to get their first dose because, we are going to address this, everybody who took the first dose would be able to get their second,” he assured.
However, a group of Guyanese – Salima A. Bacchus-Hinds, Karen Abrams, Ashma John and Francis M. Bailey – have raised questions about the gap between the first and second dose of the Sputnik vaccine and whether there is sound research to support the constantly increasing period of time within which persons can take their second dose, as advised by authorities.
In a Letter to the Editor, they referenced a Reuters article wherein it was noted that, amid manufacturing delays of the vaccine, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced that “a longer interval between shots provides a stronger immune response”.
Russia’s vaccine roll-out involves giving people the second dose of Sputnik V after 21 days.
However, according to the article: “Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Institute which developed the vaccine, said in April that the gap between the shots could be increased to 90 days. The RDIF official quoted Gamaleya trials as showing longer gaps had secured a better immune response, but provided no further details of the trials.”
Then, in July, RDIF announced that the gap between the two shots of the Sputnik V vaccine can be extended up to 180 days and it will remain effective. “These statements made by the RDIF need to be supported by transparent research by independent health authorities. People’s lives are on the line,” the group of Guyanese urged.
“Some of us were lucky to be among the first batch of persons that lined up to get the Sputnik vaccine and had no problems getting the second dose. But we have seen first-hand the frustration of friends and family as they hunt the elusive second dose. The Government of Guyana owes it to the public, particularly those persons that were so proactive in protecting themselves, to fully disclose the reasons behind the delays in the Sputnik second doses, and to develop a clear contingent plan in the face of continued delays.”
The group said that the current trend is to treat COVID-19 deaths as an individual failure, but questions must be asked about who is to be blamed when a person who cannot access their second dose, ends up in the ICU and dies.
Meanwhile, as time progresses, more persons partially vaccinated are being admitted to COVID-19 ICUs for one reason or the other. On Friday, Dr. Carpen provided data which showed that of the 35 persons in the COVID ICU, 31 were unvaccinated, 3 were partially vaccinated and one person was fully vaccinated.