Guyana expected to receive some 3,800 vaccines in February and March -President Ali

-China will donate 20,000 doses of vaccines

His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali announced this afternoon that some 3,800 COVID-19 vaccines will be available to Guyanese by February and March and will be immediately allocated to our frontline health workers, people with comorbidities and the elderly.

The President during an address to the nation said that his Government has been working behind the scenes to pursue all possible means to bring the virus under control and to get the appropriate protection.

He said that last year, Guyana joined COVAX and is now eligible to receive vaccines for 20% of our population, which will be free of cost. Those are the vaccines expected from next month.

President Ali however stated that the Government will be looking at different avenues to get a larger percentage of the population protected and will be aggressively going after the vaccines.

He said that at the bilateral levels, the Government of Guyana has had productive discussions with the Governments of India, China and Russia, while they are also working with CARICOM, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union (EU) for a quota of vaccines.

“The Government of China has confirmed that it will be donating 20,000 doses of vaccines to Guyana. Discussions are ongoing and arrangements to acquired vaccines from these countries will be finalised shortly.”

The President added that the Government is also negotiating with major manufacturers, including Pfizer, BioNTec, Moderna and AstraZeneca and is hoping to finalise a supply of vaccines from them.

“In short, your Government is wholly committed to obtaining vaccines in the shortest possible time, utilising every means at our disposal for our people…. We will spare no efforts; we are pursuing all avenues to get as many vaccines as possible to cover as much of the population as possible.”

President Ali again reiterated that the Government would not force Guyanese to take the vaccine but would encourage them to do so.

“I want you to feel confident, indeed, to feel certain, that when the vaccines arrive and we begin to distribute them they will have the full approval of the World Health Organisation and will be safe. I will be the first to take one when I am entitled to.”

He said that while the Government works to access the vaccines, officials are also organising to implement their distribution.

“We are installing and extending the Cold Chain infrastructure for safely storing the vaccines, and personnel are actively in training to get the job done.”

The President, who also thanked the frontline workers, appealed to Guyanese to stay safe.

“I repeat, wear your masks, wash your hands, keep your distance and stay home, unless you have a really good reason for going out.”

The President also announced that the Central Bank has extended measures to help businesses, those measures have been extended until August this year.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony said that the aim is to increase public messages to keep Guyanese up to date on information. He said that persons are already being trained to deliver the vaccines and will be able to execute their duties in quick time.

“Mr President, we are prepared and ready. So, once we start receiving the vaccines we will be able to deploy them as rapidly as possible and in the safest manner as possible.”

Head of the COVID-19 Task Force, Prime Minister, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips, appealed to Guyanese to play their parts in protecting themselves and their loved ones.

“Let us throughout Guyana adhere to the measures in place, these measures will protect us.”

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.