Dec 03, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – As part of its plan to shortly roll out a COVID-19 vaccination programme, government will be giving first preference to the elderly and persons with multiple illnesses (co-morbidities). This announcement was made by Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, during his COVID-19 update on Tuesday.
Guyana will be receiving COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, which includes organizations like the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and GAVI – the Vaccine Alliance. COVAX was created in April with the aim of ensuring lower-income countries acquire vaccines for at least 20 percent of their population.
Guyana will access the first set of vaccine doses to administer to three percent of the population through COVAX, which they recommended be used on health care and frontline workers and another 17 percent is also expected after the first set is received.
Despite this, Dr. Anthony said that the elderly and persons with co-morbidities would be more at risk. “They are asking countries to prioritize that three percent more towards frontline workers, which would include healthcare workers and other persons who are engaging the public constantly. In our context, we are leaning towards having the elderly and persons who have co-morbidities because these are persons more at risk,” the Health Minister said.
Additionally, health officials around the country had contended that most persons who succumbed to the virus were elderly or had underlying conditions. Since the onset of the virus in March, the Health Ministry has been lamenting that these persons are likely to die from COVID-19, urging that they be more vigilant.
The Ministry has already set out to establish efficient storage facilities for the vaccines upon arrival, which will be done by retrofitting government storage bonds within each region, according to Dr. Anthony. Recently, the Ministry published bids for construction of an upper floor cold storage vaccine bond at its Kingston, Georgetown Materials Management Unit (MMU).
“The facilities would be upgraded and expanded in some cases because we would need the additional space. We’ll be adding new freezers appropriate for the types of vaccines that we’ll be getting and, in some cases, we will have to do some power upgrades since they will have to be stored at specific temperatures,” Dr. Anthony had previously stated.
Guyana will be receiving the Moderna vaccine, which was found to be 94.5 percent effective, and the Pfizer vaccine, which is 95 percent effective and was recently approved for use in the United Kingdom from next week.
The Moderna vaccine can be stored in a standard refrigerator with temperatures of two to eight degrees Celsius (36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 days while the Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at very cold temperatures of minus 70 to 80 degrees.
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