March 10, 2023 | By Colin O. Jarrett |
In a quest to access lifesaving vaccines without relying on supplies from developed countries, the Government of Guyana has reached out to the nations of Rwanda and India to strengthen its healthcare services and potentially, manufacture vaccines in the Caribbean.
This was disclosed by Vice President Bharat Jagdeo during a press conference on March 3. He noted that if the talks bear fruit, they will ensure regional security for lifesaving vaccines.
“This has been an old issue here about the safety of our people and given what happened in the pandemic. We have been exploring the possibility of regional security with vaccines.”
He added that the discussions would continue at the government and company level.
President Dr Irfaan Ali previously said that Guyana will be seeking to develop a facility like BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine factory in Kigali, Rwanda. He also encouraged investors in medical research and development to consider developments in the Caribbean.
Already, engagements were held between Guyana and Barbados to work with researchers and developers with the aim of acquiring pharmaceutical equity for global public health.
These efforts, Jagdeo explained, are in response to the challenges encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic. That global crisis, he said, highlighted the importance of not only having access to vaccines but in ensuring that every region is vaccine secure.
Additionally, the pandemic highlighted the inequality in the manufacturing of vaccines, pricing and also distribution.
“The idea is to ensure we have security in the future because you saw what happened during the pandemic. We could not get supplies for people in this part of the world.
“Africa faced the same thing that is why there is a discussion with Rwanda to do the same thing. We can’t rely on the developed world in the future to supply these,” Jagdeo said.
India has already assured Guyana of its assistance in establishing a vaccine treatment plant and in building Guyana’s capacity through the training of healthcare professionals.