Chinese vaccine launched

The Chinese COVID-19 Sinopharm vaccine is now available to Papua New Guineans after it was launched for rollout at the Port Moresby General Hospital yesterday.

The Ambassador for People’s Republic of China to PNG, Zeng Fahnua, and Minister for Health, Jelta Wong, jointly launched the Sinopharm vaccine.

The vaccine arrived two weeks ago and since its arrival, more than 2,000 Chinese citizens in PNG have been vaccinated. It will be rolled out at the PMGH and then be made available to other parts of the country.

The Minister for Forests and Member for Namatanai, Walter Schnaubelt, who was present to witness the launch, volunteered to be the first to receive the Sinopharm vaccine. He was then followed by a Chinese citizen.

Minister Schnaubelt said he volunteered to receive the vaccination to encourage other citizens to come forward and receive it too.

“More importantly, this vaccination that I’m taking gives more opportunity for Papua New Guineans to select a vaccine of their choice,” Schnaubelt said.

Meanwhile, Wong said Sinopharm is one of the two main Chinese coronavirus vaccines that have gone out to millions of people both in China and in other countries, especially in Asia, Africa and in Latin America. Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have also received and started the rollout phase of the vaccine.

“Sinopharm vaccine was approved by World Health Organization as a COVID-19 vaccine on the 7th of May. This allows Sinopharm to be included in the COVAX facility, a global program to support and provide fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines between countries, especially those who may be disadvantaged by the global demand for vaccine against the unprecedented pandemic,” Minister Wong stated.

He said apart from AstraZeneca from Australia, national regulatory authority has also approved for the use of Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

When asked about the vaccine hesitancy in PNG, Minister Wong said the government has approved four different vaccines for use in PNG and it allows people to choose what vaccine they want to take.

Ambassador Zeng Fahnua assured that Sinopharm vaccine has been listed for emergency use by the WHO.

“So far, more than 1.38 billion doses of Chinese vaccines have been received in China. China has provided more than 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 100 countries,” Ambassador Fahnua said. 

He said the virus keeps rebounding and spreading and the Delta Variant has brought new challenges and risks. Therefore, staying united to fight the pandemic is still a pressing priority for the world.

(Forestry Minister, Walter Schnaubelt, taking the first dose of Sinopharm vaccine)

Frieda Kana