Kaieteur News – It is understood that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Guyana has cleared, for emergency use in Guyana, the Chinese produced SINOPHARM vaccine and the SPUTNIK V Russian-made vaccine. With that singular act, the FDA of Guyana has done what the World Health Organization has not yet done.
It is not yet clear what expertise the local FDA has in approving vaccines. It would be useful for the media to ask who studied the data which was submitted for the vaccines and on what basis did the FDA approve emergency use of the two vaccines.
All factors – including efficacy, storage, cost and availability – concerned, the Russian-made SPUTNIK V vaccine is the best on the market. Not only does it have an efficacy rate of 92 percent. It was approved for use in some countries even before final trials had been completed.
There is however no guarantee that Guyana will be able to order any substantive quantities as some countries, the latest being Egypt, have begun to place order for the vaccine. Two days ago, Mexico, which has one of the highest numbers of coronavirus deaths in the world, received its first shipment of 200,000 doses. It was supposed to receive 400,000 in February and reports indicate uncertainty as to when the other half of the order will be shipped. Gaza which has a population of 1.8 million has only received 20,000 doses so far. Iran, Macedonia and Brussels are lining up to make orders. Charity however begins at home and Russia has vaccinated less than five percent of its population. Guyana therefore is not likely to receive any significant quantities of the SPUTNIK V vaccine.
China has already committed 20,000 vaccines to Guyana. China keeps its word and will most likely deliver on its promise. China’s slow vaccination rate at home is not likely to alter its promise to other countries because China has long had the pandemic under control within its borders, despite what the western press may say.
This column had called for China to increase its apportionment of the SINOPHARM vaccine to Guyana to allow for 30,000 persons (60 thousand doses) to be vaccinated locally. This will take care of all persons in the most high-risk age group and would slowdown the local coronavirus death rate.
But China is also being pressed to make supplies of its SINOPHARM vaccine to other countries. Senegal and Hungary have begun to use the Chinese-made vaccine, Bolivia will soon begin administering the SINOPHARM vaccine to its population and Zimbabwe just received 200,000 doses. In total, more than 50 countries will receive donations of the vaccine from China while other supplies of the vaccine will be procured. Iraq is waiting in line. Guyana therefore should have long been pressing for its 60,000, rather than the 20,000 donation, which will be given to us.
The SINOPHARM vaccine has an efficacy rate of just over 70 percent, which is satisfactory by vaccination standards. And it is easier to store than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Some rich Guyanese are saying that they want the America-made vaccines. Well what is stopping them from jumping on a plane and going to America and waiting for their shots in the same way as some of them jump on a plane and go for their medical check-ups overseas.
Guyana will not, for a long time, be able to source the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The bulk of the population will therefore have to settle for the Astra-Zeneca, compliments of COVAX and the SINOPHARM and SPUTNIK vaccines when they come here.
However, Cuba has a vaccine, SOBERANA 2 which is due to undergo last-stage clinical trials soon. That vaccine is likely to be available probably after June. Guyana should ensure that it puts in its orders soon because Cuba has always been willing to help Guyana, unlike the Americans which have not donated, not even a dozen of their supplies to us.
Whenever the vaccines come, the first priority should be the frontline healthcare workers, followed by the most vulnerable age-group which has been established at 55 plus. The COVAX facility should provide enough vaccines to cover the most vulnerable.
But we know with the PPP/C what is likely to happen. Persons are going to jump the queue, just as happened recently. And when they do, the government will find an excuse not to prosecute those culpable simply because those persons are its friends. You will hear talk about extending the vaccines to non-frontline personnel – this is just the excuse which is being made to not go after those culpable for violating the vaccination protocols.
To hell with who is dying in the population! Friends have benefits in so far as the PPP/C is concerned.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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