9 February 2021
The Department of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners are seeking Government endorsement to secure initial COVID-19 vaccines for Papua New Guinea.
In his recent media briefing on Covid-19 Response and Preparations for Covid-19 Vaccine, Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr Osborne Liko, said vaccines distributed through the COVAX Facility, undergo extensive clinical trials and vigorous assessments and meet global standards set by WHO.
Once in country, these will then be approved for use by the Government and the National Department of Health, PNG’s national regulatory authority, to ensure quality control and asses safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine before approving for use in country.
“Though vaccines alone won’t end the pandemic, they will be an extremely important additional tool in strengthening our response to COVID-19 when used in combination with the other measures we know work.
“Even when we start vaccinating people against COVID-19 in PNG, we must continue with proven, basic preventative measures to protect ourselves, our family and community.
“Current evidence shows that the existing COVID-19 vaccines are effective at stopping disease, but we still don’t know if they prevent people from becoming infected with the virus.”
Dr Liko said being vaccinated would stop people from getting sick, but it may not prevent a person from passing the virus onto others.
“While these new vaccines are very promising, no vaccine is 100 percent effective. So even once vaccines are rolled out, we must maintain adherence to all the other measures that we know work to stop transmission of COVID-19,” he added.
The initial phase of the vaccine rollout in PNG will target high risk groups, such as, frontline health care workers, followed by older persons and individuals with chronic underlying conditions.
“We must protect those most vulnerable to infection and severe symptoms first. Down the line, we hope to be able to have a wider target group range.”
Dr Liko said, “these vaccines are by no means a ‘silver bullet’ that will end the pandemic in the near future. Even with vaccination, it is critical that we must continue with other proven preventative measures.
“Maintaining physical distance, hand hygiene, staying home when sick, wearing of masks, avoiding crowed spaces, must be continued.
“As long as the virus is circulating, everyone remains at risk. The challenge is to ensure everyone understands that the risk is not over. COVID-19 is going to remain for the foreseeable future and decision-makers and the public must remain vigilant.
“The actions we all take as individuals will determine the safety of our families and our community. We are in this together. Let us all stand together, united, to stop COVID-19 from taking lives,” Dr Liko said.
Documentations are currently pending National Executive Council endorsement.