BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
SOLOMON Islands has received its first batch of 24,000 COVID-19 vaccine, the AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday.
The vaccine was shipped via COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNCEF and WHO. This is a historic step towards achieving the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally.
The arrival of the 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine marks the first batch of the vaccines to arrive in the country under the COVAX facility.
Minister for Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Dr Culwick Togamana in receiving the vaccines at the Honiara International airport yesterday afternoon stated “today (yesterday) marks a significant milestone in Solomon Islands against COVID-19 with the arrival and receiving of the first 24,000 doses of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.
“This is the first of many more consignments of COVID-19 vaccines that the government and partners are working hard to bring into its endeavor to protect all of us against the global pandemic.”
“With the high global demand of these vaccines, let us thank our Almighty God that we are now amongst many countries in the world to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and also among few Pacific Island Countries to have received the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“These 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine we receive today, is the first tranche of the 108,000 doses confirmed by COVAX facility to cover 20 percent of our population. These vaccines are provided by the Serum Institute in India for making these vaccines available through the COVAX facility.”
“I would like to also acknowledge here the contributions of many of our donors and bilateral partners, the British Government as one of the major donors of GAVI, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China. All your contributions to GAVI have enabled us not only to receive these vaccines today (yesterday) but in the past decades we were able to protect our population from vaccine preventable diseases. So, thank you indeed.”
“With this, I stand in salutation of the staff, experts, specialists and advisors of the ministry of health under the leadership of my Permanent Secretary who have worked tirelessly with determination to ensure that we continue to enhance our capability to protect our people from this virus by all possible means. What are witnessing today (yesterday) is the reflection of your determination. Thank you.”
Dr Zelalem Taffese UNICEF field officer to Solomon Islands said “I am honored to stand with you today to welcome the first shipment of COVID 19 vaccines to Solomon Islands.
“Exactly a year ago, the world was in a very different state. Borders were closing, hope was flickering, and we looked to face a very grim and unknown future.”
“Today, we mark a very important milestone. Access to vaccines through The COVAX facility which had set the target of vaccinating at least 20% of the world’s population by the end of 2021,”
“The vaccines we are welcoming this afternoon indicate the light at the end of the tunnel. The beginning of the journey to Normalcy.”
“COVAX represents an unprecedented global cooperation and collaboration that gives us hope in Humanity’s capacity to work together to address our common collective problems,” said Taffese.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his special national address yesterday said the arrival of the first doses of COVID-19 Vaccines is a tremendously proud day for the country.
“I give Honour and Praise to our Almighty GOD for working through our partners to ensure our first batch of vaccines arrive today.”
“I also thank Solomon Airlines for ensuring the Vaccines get into the country, and our Customs team for ensuring their pre-release so that they can be stored appropriately immediately after arrival,” said Sogavare.
He said the bulk of the vaccines will be deployed to the western border zone where the highest urgency, and priority exists to protect people of this country.