Wednesday, July 24, 2024

COVID-19 vaccine already being made available; Belize awaits its order

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While Belize has reportedly made down payments to secure doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, countries like the United Kingdom (UK) have already rolled out the first ones to the public, and Mexico is getting ready to do so very soon.

On Tuesday, December 8th, the UK became the first country to offer the vaccine to its citizens, a vaccine that according to reports, went through all necessary testing. 90-year-old British Margaret Keenan became the world’s first person to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. Keenan, who is soon celebrating her birthday, said she feels privileged and thankful for what she considered the best early birthday present. The other person to receive the vaccine was 81-year-old William Shakespeare, living in Coventry in the UK. The vaccine will now be given to front-line health workers, nursing home workers and those aged over 80. Afterwards, the wider population in the UK is expected to start receiving the vaccine.

Pfizer confirmed that the UK will initially receive around 800,000 shots from its manufacturing hub in Belgium.

In Mexico, the government is planning to start vaccinating its people at the end of the third week in December. According to an announcement on Tuesday, December 8th, the first persons to receive the jab will be health workers. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador declared that the vaccines will be ‘universal and free.’ He hopes that all Mexicans could be vaccinated by the end of 2021.

The next phase of the vaccination will see those over the age of 60 being inoculated with the treatment starting in February. Then those over the age of 50 in April, and those over 40 in May. The Mexican Government urges those people with risk factors to get vaccinated first. Mexico already has contracted for 34.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 250,000 are expected to arrive by December 17th.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can only be moved four times, when transporting it. It has to be stored at minus 94°F, and once thawed, can only be stored at refrigerated temperatures for up to five days. The vaccine is a new type called an RNA, and uses a tiny fragment of the virus’s genetic code. This starts making part of the virus inside the body, which the immune system recognises as foreign and starts to attack. An RNA vaccine has never been approved for use in humans before, although people have received them in clinical trials for other diseases.

Plans to getting the vaccine in Belize

File Photo: Dr. Marvin Manzanero

On October 16th, Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero spoke of a down payment of US$382,000 made to a company called COVAX. This company would allow access to vaccines when they are created to up to 30% of the Belize population. The government is expected to pay the remainder of $2.1million when the vaccines are available.

According to Manzanero, its distribution will first reach to those at the forefront of the fight. Healthcare workers will go first, follow by the vulnerable population consisting of people older than 60 years of age. Afterwards it would be children under 23 months, pregnant women, hypertensives, kidney failure and HIV patients.

In the meantime, and while the vaccine is made available for Belize, the general public is urged to continue their efforts in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

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