Georgetown, 29 January 2021 – Guyana today received 24,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses through the COVAX Facility, a partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The arrival marks a historic step towards ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. This delivery is part of the first phase of deliveries for Guyana, with more vaccines expected to arrive successively during 2021. According to the first round of COVAX allocations, Guyana is expected to continue receiving doses through May until it reaches 100,800, the amount specified by COVAX.
PAHO’s Revolving Fund, which is responsible for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for the countries of the Americas under the COVAX Facility, shipped 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by SK Bioscience of South Korea. The vaccines arrived today at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Georgetown.
“Seeing this arrival is very reassuring and it means that more people will be able to be protected from COVID-19,” said Dr. Luis Codina, PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana. “We will continue to work with the country to support vaccination along with the entire package of known public health and social measures that we know can help stop the spread of COVID-19, protect health services, and save lives.”
Guyana is one of ten countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that are receiving vaccines at no cost through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). Guyana is the first AMC country in the Caribbean to receive the vaccines through COVAX.
“The Government of Guyana welcomes the arrival of vaccines from COVAX AMC. These vaccines will certainly help to expand the current vaccination efforts and assist in protecting many persons who are vulnerable to COVID-19. We will like to extend our gratitude to COVAX, PAHO/WHO, UNICEF and the UN family for their efforts in securing these vaccines for Guyana. These vaccines will definitely help to accelerate our efforts to reach herd immunity in a timely manner,” said Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, Advisor to the Minister of Health, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Frank Anthony, Minister of Health of Guyana.
“The arrival of these vaccines and the future deliveries bring hope to families, especially children, who have suffered the consequences of the crisis caused by the pandemic, with profound impacts on education, mental health, protection and food security,” said Mr. Irfan Akhtar, UNICEF, Deputy Rep, who spoke on behalf of Mr. Nicolas Pron, UNICEF Representative in Guyana. “With these vaccines more people will be protected: a key step to making sure that no one is left behind and that we are building together a better future for children and their families.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the UN System in Guyana has worked with government, civil society, and other partners to identify and assist the needs of the population in responding to the health crisis and its socio-economic effects.
“Under the leadership of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the United Nations system has come together to help countries respond to the devastating global impact of COVID-19,” said Mikiko Tanaka, UN Resident Coordinator for Guyana. “COVAX is a hard-won global partnership to ensure no one is left behind in the path to recovery and SDGs.”
The first case of COVID-19 in Guyana was reported in March 2020. Since then, the country has confirmed 10,168 cases and 227 deaths as a result of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes this disease, according to data from Guyana’s Ministry of Health as of March 28, 2021.
COVAX seeks to provide vaccines for at least 20% of the population of each participating country during 2021. In this first round of vaccine allocation, all COVAX participating countries will receive doses to vaccinate between 2.2 and 2.6% of their population. The only exceptions are Small Island Developing States, which will receive an allocation of vaccines to cover between 16 and 20% of their population, due to the high logistical cost of delivering small quantities of vaccines.
Until vaccination is widespread among the population, basic public health measures remain the basis of the pandemic response. For public health authorities, this means continuing diagnostic testing, contact tracing, isolation, assisted quarantine, and quality care. And for individuals, it means continuing to practice physical distancing, hand hygiene, the use of masks, adequate ventilation of indoor environments, and avoidance of crowded spaces.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, as well as civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others.