(CMC) — The Guyana government has strongly denied acquiring vaccines to treat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from anyone facing legal troubles, insisting that its vaccination programme is aimed at saving the lives of all Guyanese.
“At no time did Guyana procure vaccines from any illegal entity or anyone in trouble with legal authorities anywhere. At no time did Guyana access vaccines secretly from anyone,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Wednesday night.
Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon called on President Irfaan Ali to disclose the details regarding the purchase of the Russian made Sputnik V coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines from a member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ruling family who visited Guyana last year.
“A full explanation of the vaccine racket is demanded of President Irfaan Ali by the Guyanese people,” Harmon said with regards to the one billion dollar (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) purchase.
“This level of industrial scale corruption by the installed People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime has been disclosed at a time when Guyanese are suffering from a COVID-19 pandemic, the worst flood disaster in our history, high and rising cost of living, low wages and salaries paid to public servants and blatant discrimination by the installed PPP regime in the manner it manages the affairs of the state,” Harmon added.
But in its lengthy statement, the Ministry of Health said the purchase of the vaccines was above board.
“Guyana has not procured vaccines from any illegal source as far as Mr. Harmon’s claim that the Government procured vaccines from any international fraudster; this is blatantly false. We are not aware of, have not seen any evidence, and none was presented by the Leader of the Opposition, or any other person or entities, that show Sheik Al Maktoum is an international fraudster or wanted in any country,” the statement said.
Harmon had also alleged that the government was involved in a corrupt transaction that was deliberately put together to defraud the state and benefit a few people.
He is asking the Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, to justify how Guyana has paid more for the vaccines- Sputnik V at US$24 per dose instead of US$10 and Sinopharm at US$16 instead of US$5.
But the Ministry of Health said that even at a higher price, the government did nothing wrong to buy vaccines to protect the population from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a good investment for our people at the time. It remains a good investment at this time. The Ministry of Health has no apologies in this regard,” the Ministry of Health said in the statement, adding that all of the documentation is there to prove that there was no shady transaction and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) was involved.
“The Ministry of Health has followed the SOPs for procurement, always obtaining NPTAB approval for procurement. In terms of the single-sourcing of vaccines, there is no availability from different sources that permit open tendering,” the Ministry said.
It said the government wants to vaccinate all Guyanese against the coronavirus by the end of this year, and in this regard opted to buy most of its vaccines because Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson could not have supplied Guyana with the vaccine at the moment.
Guyana says that as of June 15, it has vaccinated 223,659 people or 46 per cent of the adult population with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. Guyana has also fully vaccinated 92,157 people or 17 per cent of the adult population against COVID-19.