COVID vaccines expected in Guyana during second quarter of 2021

Last Updated on Monday, 4 January 2021, 12:35 by Writer

Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony on Monday disclosed that Guyana would receive the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine during the second quarter of this year, but he could not say whether it would be the one produced by Moderna which has less refrigeration restrictions compared to the other vaccine types.

“We don’t know which one we would eventually get but whatever you get will depend also on your readiness  so that’s why we are preparing our cold chain to take in any one the vaccines ranging from the -70 degrees right up to +8 degrees,” he said in an interview on News-Talk Radio 103.1 FM’s Beat-The-Clock morning programme.

The health minister said COVAX has not yet said which one of the vaccines Guyana would be receiving but the country has to provide information on which of the vaccines it could handle. “We are preparing for any one of those vaccines because the temperature range is quite different,” he said.

Experts say Moderna’s vaccine appears to be easier to store as it remains stable at minus 20C for up to six months and can be kept in a standard fridge for up to a month.

The Health Minister said the first batch of vaccines are expected to arrive in Guyana between April and June, 2021. Dr. Anthony noted that with 192 countries under the COVAX mechanism Guyana would have greater negotiating leverage to obtain vaccines for 20 percent of the population.

Asked whether Guyana could not choose to obtain supplies of Moderna, he noted that most of the vaccines being produced by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech are scarce because they are being purchased by developed nations. “It shows that there is a supply issue here with the vaccine,” the health minister said. He explained that a number of countries are administering first doses now because of supply constraints.

Vaccines produced by Russia and China are yet to be approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Official figures released by the health ministry on Sunday show that five persons recovered from the viral disease in 24 hours, pushing the total number of recoveries since March 2020 to 5,899. Laboratory tests returned seven new cases from 74 tests over the same period. The number of persons receiving intensive care has increased from 4 to 7. The data shows that 283 persons have agreed to isolate at home and nine are hospitalised.