Aug 04, 2021 News
…as Guyana spends $2.2B to date procuring coveted drugs — Health Minister
Kaieteur News – While Guyana has already expended some $2.2B on vaccines meant to combat the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the true cost of the vials of medicine is not known on the international markets, since “countries were required to sign confidentiality agreements that prevents the disclosure of price.”
The situation obtains, since governments have been outbidding each other to get access to the vaccines, among other factors.
At least, this is according to the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, who, during yesterday’s sitting of the National Assembly, responded to enquiries made by A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Shadow Minister for the sector, Dr. Karen Cummings.
The opposition member had sought to query from the Minister whether the administration had in fact managed to procure enough of the coveted COVID-19 vaccines in order to contain the outbreak domestically and to achieve herd immunity.
This is in addition to ascertaining from the Substantive Minister, the factors that influenced the purchase of the AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Sinopharm in preference to Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
To this end, Dr. Anthony informed the House—through a written response—that while there was an agreement with COVAX for vaccines to cater for some 20 percent of the population, “COVAX had difficulty fulfilling this commitment because of the global shortage and funding difficulties.”
As such, he disclosed that this quota has not been filled.
Speaking directly to the Moderna vaccine, the Health Minister informed the House that in the early part of the year, that company could not export the vaccine to other countries because of export restrictions and supply commitments to the US Government.
As it relates to the Pfizer version of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Anthony said that the company had made bilateral commitments with more affluent countries, and that doses from that company would only become available from next year.
According to the Health Minister, there has been a global shortage of the raw materials used for the production of the vaccines, and that this too, has led to lower availability.
Compounding the situation, Dr. Anthony informed the House that increased domestic demand for vaccines as manufacturing countries experience surges of cases due to new strains, has led to countries stopping exports in order to fulfill their domestic demands.
According to Dr. Anthony, these factors, among others, “have contributed to vaccine inequity, where many of the richer countries have been able to vaccinate their population while poorer nations struggle to acquire vaccines.”
As it relates to the amount of money spent thus far, Dr. Anthony informed the Members of the Legislative Assembly that the government “has spent approximately $2.2B Guyana dollars on vaccine purchase and logistics of getting vaccines to Guyana.”
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