I would like to take this opportunity to update the Guyanese population on a statement I regard as very reckless, immature and one that only seeks to derive political gains.
Whilst I am sure that if one is to examine the statement by Mr Harmon, in relation to the Sputnik vaccine, dissuading Guyanese from taking the sputnik vaccine, you will find it to be self-serving, shamefully reckless, selfish and against the interest of Guyana and Guyanese.
This is a man who shamefully tried to steal an election some months ago. This is a man who himself took the Sputnik vaccine.
There is a limit to which one’s selfishness can boast. In this case, the limit must be to issue a statement that put the lives of Guyanese, families and communities at risk. That is what Mr Harmon has done.
On more than one occasion, I said to the Guyanese population that this Government is going to explore all avenues to ensure we get our people vaccinated – this is the only way we can get ahead of the curve and return Guyana to normalcy. And that position would not change.
Every single manufacturer, developer, countries, whether it was for Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, Astra Zeneca, Sputnik, we tried. We tried countries directly, we tried developers directly, we tried manufacturers directly, and we tried diplomatic channels. We tried every single thing, and we continue to try every single day. We have requests with every single developer and manufacturer for vaccines to protect the lives of the Guyanese people. Many companies and agencies approached us; we tried.
I announced that we were getting the Sputnik from the UAE at $20: very, very early; I made it clear to the Guyanese people because there is no cost to protecting the lives of Guyanese. And that is the only interest of the Government; that is my only interest.
Let me assure Guyanese that more than 74 countries across the world are using Sputnik. The clinical data for Sputnik is already with the EU and WHO approving authorities. Countries all across the globe use Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, Astra Zeneca, Sinopharm prior to the WHO approval. The UK used Astra Zeneca before WHO approval.
All the scientific literature tells you how important vaccination is.
Countries are fighting desperately to get these vaccines. These vaccines are not easily procured. We have tried every single measure, and for Mr Harmon to try to discredit those efforts, for Mr Harmon to now try to dissuade Guyanese at this important public health juncture in our country, is reckless and shameful.
Let me also say that every single shipment of Sputnik comes with a batch number and serial numbers, and before it is administered, it has to comply fully with the local regulatory approval system. On our vaccination card itself, there is a batch number and a serial number that can be matched back to the manufacturer’s data.
So I implore Guyanese not to fall prey to the political selfishness of Harmon, not to fall prey to the shameful recklessness and self-serving interest of Joseph Harmon. He is doing this at a time when the country would have lost a close colleague of his in Region 10. He is doing this at a time when he himself took Sputnik. This level of irresponsibility, this level of selfishness, is beyond anything that a leader or someone who has prided himself with the values of leadership can demonstrate.
So I call on Guyanese to heed the calls of the Ministry of Health, heed the calls of scientists, heed the calls of the scientific community, heed the call of doctors and get vaccinated. We will continue to roll out Sputnik and other vaccines when they become available. We are expecting a shipment from the African platform, from Covax. We have heard the announcement from the US- those will augment our efforts. But get vaccinated; I implore you, please, my Guyanese brothers and sisters. Vaccination is an essential part of the struggle against COVID. It protects you, it protects your family, and it gives us an opportunity to get out of this pandemic.
Please get vaccinated.
Thank you, and may God bless you.