Updating COVID-19 vaccines necessary for strengthened immunity – Health Minister
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, M.P., during Tuesday’s COVID-19 update explained the importance of updating COVID-19 vaccines to target emerging sub-variants of the Coronavirus, particularly the Omicron variant.
Currently, this variant has evolved into five sub-variants, which are highly transmissible in comparison to the original strain of the virus.
This has led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider updating COVID-19 vaccines to target sub-variants BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5, which are predominantly responsible for newer infections across the world.
Minister Anthony said, “One of the things that has happened with these different sub-variants, the spiked protein has changed and this is the protein that was used for the immune system to detect these vaccines and to react to the vaccine.
“So, if you have a change to the spike protein then the immune system would not react effectively, and therefore you have to change that protein to match what is now circulating.”
He further explained that Pfizer and BioNTech have started manufacturing updated vaccines to be used as booster doses. These vaccines have so far shown a substantially higher immune response than the current COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Anthony is hopeful that more vaccines will become available to ensure a higher immunity against the disease.
“As we understand which variants are circulating, they’ll be able to develop vaccines that are specific to those variants which would be more effective so it’s a good thing,” the minister pointed out.
Meanwhile, Guyana is currently using three vaccines namelyPfizer, Sinopharm and Johnson and Johnson.
To date, 86.5 percent of the adult population took the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 66.9 percent is fully vaccinated.
In terms of adolescents (12-17 years), 48 percent received the first dose and 35.1 percent is fully inoculated. Also, over 3, 200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered to children five to 11 years old.
Additionally, 68, 430 people took their booster doses. Minister Anthony continues to urge eligible persons to get boosted, as this will ensure a higher level of immunity against COVID-19.