By Darshanand Khusial, Meng, Charles Sugrim, CPA, Mike Persaud, MBA and Jerry Jailall, PhD
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 24, 2021: “Wildly uneven and unfair.” Those were the statements used recently by the United Nations boss.
He wasn’t talking about Guyana’s Stabroek oil contract but COVID vaccine distribution. He cited that over 130 countries have not had a single dose of the vaccine, whereas 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccinations.
One of the main purposes of government is to protect its citizens. The nationalism being shown by the Western countries in hoarding COVID vaccines for their citizens should remind us that foreign countries and their companies don’t have our best interests in mind. We should question if the Guyanese government is doing all it can to protect its citizens.
There are many foreign companies engaging in exploiting our oil such as: Exxon and Hess, which are based in America; Tullow which is based in the United Kingdom; and JHI Associates which is based in Canada. If one looks at the data of how much COVID vaccines have been administered per 100 people, America has administered 18 shots and the UK has given about 26 shots. Comparatively, Guyana has administered less than 1 shot per 100 people.
Canada has orders to purchase 414 million doses of COVID vaccines which is about 6 times more than it needs. The Americans, British, and Canadians will all benefit from our 9 billion barrels of oil. How many vaccines have they provided us? Canada has not donated a single dose to any country, including Guyana.
India is not as rich as Canada monetarily, but it appears in this COVID crisis to have richer moral values. India has been more generous in its vaccine donations than Canada. India will donate 500,000 doses to Sri Lanka. Plus, the island of Mauritius, with 1.3 million people, will receive 100,000 COVID doses from India.
India produces 60% of the world’s vaccines and is set to become the second largest producer of COVID vaccines behind America. We do not need donations from India for vaccines. Instead, we could trade for it. India is heavily dependent on oil to run its country but lacks significant oil resources. Hence, we should make an oil deal for COVID vaccines.
India’s Covishield vaccine, based on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, is 90% effective. The Chinese vaccine, based on results in Brazil, is only 50% effective. It would be better to administer the more highly effective Covishield vaccine than using Chinese donated vaccines on our citizens.
It is estimated Covishield may cost about US$13.55 per dose. Europe is estimated to pay between US$2.18 and US$18 per dose for vaccines from a number of Western pharmaceuticals. The population of Guyana is about 760,000 and each person would need 2 doses of Covishield.
That would cost US$21 million. We have more than US$200 million from our oil sitting in the bank, which is approximately 10 times more than we need to buy the required doses. Isn’t the most important and urgent use of our oil money to secure vaccines to protect our people?
It is clear the Americans, British and Canadians are more interested in exploiting our oil than helping our citizens survive. If the Government of Guyana’s number one priority is protecting its citizens, shouldn’t it trade some of the oil wealth with India for enough vaccines for all its citizens?
Is our oil to benefit the pockets of Western mercenaries than the lives of our citizens? To reuse the UN head’s words, that would be “wildly, uneven and unfair.”