Australia should consider giving more AstraZeneca vaccine to PNG, key Covid adviser says | Vaccines and immunisation

Join Hafta-Ichi to Research the article “Australia should consider giving more AstraZeneca vaccine to PNG, key Covid adviser says | Vaccines and immunisation”

A key adviser on Australia’s response to Covid-19, Jane Halton, says the Morrison government should give “active consideration” to giving more AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea, as domestic demand drops.

The World Health Organization warned this week that the situation in PNG was reaching a critical stage, due to continued widespread community transmission, a weak health system, rising hesitancy and limited Covid-19 testing capacity.

PNG, which has a population of eight million, has received about 140,000 vaccine doses, including 8,000 from Australia.

Australia has committed to supplying the region with 10,000 locally manufactured AstraZeneca doses every week, beginning this week.

But Australia’s capacity to supply vaccine to PNG is expected to strengthen as domestic AstraZeneca production ramps up and demand drops, due to health advice that it is not recommended for those under 50.

Health department data released on Tuesday suggested about 4m AstraZeneca doses had been received by the government, but only 1.5m had been administered as of Sunday. Second doses are generally kept in reserve, meaning roughly 1.5m is being deliberately stored.

It is unclear what has happened with the remaining 1m doses.

Halton, the former health department secretary, former WHO board member and current chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said Australia should be considering whether it can give more to PNG.

“I would be very much hoping that we are looking at our domestic supply with a view to thinking about when we can release some more from Papua New Guinea,” Halton told the Guardian.

“Obviously there’s a balance to be struck here between the domestic need and our nearest neighbour’s need, but I would be hoping that that would be being monitored very closely.

“The short answer is that: yes I would hope that there would be active consideration being given to when we can release more supply to Papua New Guinea.”

PNG has recorded 9,799 cases, including 61 new cases in the past 24 hours and 90 deaths.

The situation has raised concerns for Torres Strait Islanders, who are considered vulnerable and high priority in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy.

Some live just a short boat ride from PNG.

The vaccination program in the Torres Strait was put on hold following the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advice about the AstraZeneca vaccine. About 800 locals are thought to have been vaccinated prior to the pause, according to the Torres Strait shire council.

Halton believes the effort to vaccinate PNG must be viewed as critical to the protection of Australia and Torres Strait Islanders.

“We do have to think that this is actually bordering on a domestic protection mechanism,” she said.

Halton told the ABC on Tuesday morning that more transparency was needed on the vaccine rollout.

“One of the things we should all be asking for and I think people are trying to do this but it’s hard, is to be really transparent about what is where,” she said.

“They must be sitting somewhere, but quite where they are, I don’t think we know. And that’s the challenge, we know that there’s not quite a million doses out in general practice land and we want to see that administered.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Australia should consider giving more AstraZeneca vaccine to PNG, key Covid adviser says | Vaccines and immunisation

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *