Papua New Guinea receives first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines

The first batch of 132,000 vaccines, facilitated through the COVAX facility,  arrived in Port Moresby this morning on  board Air Niugini’s flight from Singapore.

 UNICEF had  facilitated the procurement of the vaccines from the Serum Institute of India and  were shipped to

(L-R) WHO Acting Representative, Anna Maalsen, UNICEF Representative, Claudes Kamenga and Secretary for Health, Dr. Liko Osborne on hand at Jackson’s International Airport, Port Moresby to witness the arrival of the vaccines this morning. (photo credit: UNICEF).

PNG from India in preparation for the Government’s National Vaccine roll-out programme. This vaccine will be distributed to all provinces for the vaccination of health care workers and other front line essential workers. In response to the concerns about AstraZeneca, Mr  Wong advised, “To date over 200 million doses of the AstraZeneca have been administered around the world.”

European and UK regulatory authorities have reviewed and continue to review  available data on reports of rare thromboembolic events in those who have been vaccinated in order to understand whether a causal link can be established with the AZ vaccine. They have concluded that the benefits of taking the AZ vaccine outweigh the known potential risks. If there is a link, the events are very rare and the risk is extremely low.

The World Health Organisation (WHO)  has advised countries to  continue to vaccinate with the AZ vaccine, which has saved millions of lives and prevented serious illness. “The possible risk of vaccinating – as per the UK Regulatory Agency (MHRA) report on 31st March 2021, a total of 79 cases of thromboembolic events with thrombocytopenia have been reported among 20.2 million doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca administered in the UK.

“The overall risk of these blood clots is approximately 4 people in a million who receive the vaccine. “The risk of NOT vaccinating – as of 7 April 2021, 2.86 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19, and infections continue to rise.”

AZ vaccine has been shown to be highly effective in preventing the most severe forms of the COVID-19 and death caused by COVID-19. Persons above the age of 50 are at higher risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19  should they be infected. This risk increases with age.

“The risk of severe disease, death or hospitalization as a result of COVID-19 infection is extremely serious. Vaccination is one of the key tools to preventing COVID-19 and to ending the pandemic. “Serious side effects may occur from any vaccine but they are extremely rare. It is important to remember that we are witnessing the largest mass vaccination campaign in history, and some rare reactions are to be expected,” Mr Wong said.

He added that Papua New Guinea’s infection rate continues to rise rapidly, and as a responsible Government, “it is our duty to make vaccines available. I reiterate that taking the vaccine is not mandatory, but it is definitely encouraged.” “Our Prime Minister, Our Governor General and our Chief Justice have all taken the vaccine. That in itself is a strong statement from our country’s leadership.” Hon Jelta Wong.

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