PNG receives first batch of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine from COVAX

Thursday 15 April 2021

Government and people  of Papua New Guinea have expressed their gratitude to donors and partners of  the COVAX Facility for the 132,000  doses of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines, which arrived in the country on Tuesday April 13, 2021, in what is a historic step towards ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide.

COVAX, a global partnership designed to make sure that safe and effective vaccines are available to as many people as quickly as possible, is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) and WHO – working in partnership with UNICEF as well as civil society organisations, vaccine manufacturers and others.

This shipment of 132,000 doses is the first batch of an allocated 588,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines that has been delivered to Papua New Guinea. Subsequent doses will be shipped to the country in the coming months.

The Minister for Health and HIV in Papua New Guinea, Hon. Jelta Wong, thanked the COVAX facility and all partners and donor countries for making these vaccines available to Papua New Guinea.

“The Covax facility gives developing countries an opportunity to join the global fight to end this pandemic.

“ We have our own challenges on our shores, but are comforted that we can draw on technical and humanitarian assistance to get through this.

“ The vaccine is not the silver bullet, but it gives us a fighting chance during this pandemic,” said  Mr Wong.

UNICEF and WHO in Papua New Guinea are supporting the delivery of COVAX supported vaccines and national roll outs, providing extensive support, as and when requested and in line with agreed plans set by the Government of Papua New Guinea.

“On behalf of the COVAX partnership, co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO, and key implementing partner UNICEF, we acknowledge the important role of our /donor countries in making this event possible.

“WHO commends the government of Papua New Guinea for ensuring our people, especially those at high risk of infection and severe illness, will have access to these life-saving vaccines.

“WHO will continue to provide guidance and technical support to the PNG government to ensure safe vaccination with effective and quality vaccines,” said acting Country Representative for WHO, Anna Maalsen.

“For several months, COVAX partners have been supporting governments and partners in readiness efforts, in preparation for this moment.

“This includes assisting with the development of national vaccination plans support for cold chain infrastructure, as well as stockpiling syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for health workers to start vaccinating priority groups as soon as possible.”

UNICEF is leading the procurement and delivery of these vaccines to countries around the world, including Papua New Guinea, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

As a key partner of COVAX, UNICEF is using its experience in providing vaccines for half the world’s children to roll-out vaccines quickly and fairly.

“This is only the first step in ensuring that vaccines are safely delivered into the arms of those who need them most.

“While no one is safe until everyone is safe, the pandemic is threatening decades of progress on child mortality, and essential services must be protected from negative impacts of COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs,” UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Claudes Kamenga.

Dr Kamenga said, as vaccines start to roll out in the country, they should complement, and not replace, proven public health measures.

“Papua New Guinea must also continue to apply tried-and-tested measures to successfully prevent and control transmission, such as physical distancing, masks, ventilation and hand hygiene, alongside robust programmes to test, trace, isolate and treat,” he added.

Minister for Health & HIV/AIDS, Hon. Jelta Wong, expresses his gratitude, on behalf of the government and people of Papua New Guinea, to COVAX for the shipment of 132,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to the country.

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