Health Ministry calls on Harmon to withdraw claims about Sputnik V vaccine

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 June 2021, 22:40 by Denis Chabrol

In the wake of official confirmation from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that the Sputnik V vaccines are not fake and that the supplier is authorised, the Ministry of Health on Tuesday called on Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon to withdraw his call for suspension of those jabs.

“We call upon Mr. Harmon to publicly withdraw his reckless and irresponsible statements, and to issue a public apology to the Guyanese people for the irreparable harm that he has done to national vaccination program, the distrust that he has created and the vaccine hesitancy that he caused which has indirectly put at risk the lives of many Guyanese,” the Health Ministry said.

The Health Ministry further demanded that he fully endorses the Guyana government’s vaccination programme against the coronavirus that has killed more than 400 Guyanese since last year March. “We also call on him to make
a forthright statement in support of the vaccination program and to stop playing cheap politics,” the Health Ministry said.

The RDIF, which is Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, authenticated the Sputnik V vaccines that had been shipped here by  the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Aurugulf  which acquired the jabs for further transportation to the countries where that company has received authorization for selling and distribution of “Sputnik V”, including Guyana.

The Opposition Leader has so far not reacted to either the calls by the Health Ministry or the release of the June 22, 2021 letter from the RDIF which  states that “all supporting documentation (Batch Release, Certificate of Analysis, Packing List) have been provided along with the shipments.

Mr. Harmon, for his part, has written to the Sputnik V’s manufacturer, Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation asking  a number of questions.  These are whether it could provide the Sputnik V vaccines to the Government of Guyana either directly or via the Russian Direct Investment Fund, if the United Arab Emirates’ Sheik Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum is a duly authorised distributor of the Sputnik V vaccine and if he has been supplied with Sputnik V vaccines by the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology.  Mr. Harmon has said the letter was copied to the Pan-American Health Organisation-World Health Organisation (PAHO-WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the European Union  and the Russian Embassy in Guyana.

The Health Ministry says the batch numbers issued by the RDIF match those of the vaccines received by by Guyana and so “there is no doubt about the authenticity of the Sputnik V vaccine in Guyana.”

Mr. Harmon has accused the Guyana government of engaging in a shady deal with middlemen that has cost Guyana an extra GYD$600 million.  But, already that accusation has been rubbished by the government which has said that the more than GYD$1 billion spent on the Sputnik V includes transportation costs and storage.