Feb 13, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The government plans to use $750 million in 2021 for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines to immunize Guyana’s population.
The announcement was made by the Senior Minister within the Office of the President with the responsibility for Finance, Ashni Singh, as he presented the 2021 Budget in the National Assembly yesterday.
While announcing allocations for the health sector, Singh noted that the COVID-19 pandemic would have impacted Guyana’s health sector tremendously and the rest of health sectors in the rest of the world. In light of that, his government has sought to get ahead of the pandemic by increasing testing and surveillance capacity, assisting households and they are now striving to procure thousands of vaccines to immunize the population against the virus.
He stated that the speed of time in which herd immunity will be achieved is still unknown and his administration was faced with combating unknowns with limited fiscal resources given that the public treasury would have been depleted over the past five years. “But recover we must and recover we will,” Singh stated.
He noted that when his administration took office in August the infection levels were higher, with low levels of testing. According to Singh, some 21 tests were being conducted daily which was increased to 200 when the new administration took office in August.
Further, Singh stated that his government has been clear and unwavering in its commitment to put frontline workers first as they combat the pandemic. He reflected on Thursday’s events where the government kick started immunization with frontline workers from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and the Liliendaal Infectious Disease Hospital better known as the Ocean View COVID-19 Hospital. Those vaccines came as a donation from Barbados, in 3,000 doses.
He went on to say that frontline workers, the elderly and persons with comorbidities are of top priority for immunization and the administration will continue in a phased approach.
Notably, Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, stated earlier this week that the government is hoping to have all Guyanese vaccinated by year-end. The government has already announced that they will be purchasing 140,000 doses of vaccines through an agreement with CARICOM-African Union. It was also disclosed that the government is utilizing bilateral relations to obtain vaccines. So far, they have already engaged the government of Russia and China.
Notably, apart from procurement, the country is also expected to benefit from a donation of vaccines from the COVAX Facility to cover 20% of the population. That will be 104,000 doses.
A donation of 20,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine is also expected to come from the Government of China.
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