TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands (TSI) commends the responsible decision of the Executive Government for the recently arrived vaccine from People’s Republic of China (PRC) – that it be certified by World Health Organization (WHO) before any roll out in the country.
Concerns now raised about the AstraZeneca make this decision a wise and responsible one. There is very little information available on the China Sinopharm.
It is people’s right to have as much information as they can get on the vaccines, be it from China or other countries and sources to enable them to make their own decision and ask the questions that must be asked of the medical profession.
TSI understands that WHO is yet to certify Sinopharm like it did with the other vaccines.
It is also important that WHO representative in Solomon Islands must explain to the people of Solomon Islands the reason for not certifying Sinopharm.
Transparency Solomon Islands understands that some country like Indonesia have rolled out the use of China made Sinopharm, and one wonders if WHO is monitoring and working with these countries to collect the data it needs in order to certify or not to certify the China made vaccine-Sinopharm.
Transparency Solomon Islands notes that China is the only country so far who has donated vaccine for the control of coronavirus to Solomon Islands.
An amount of 50,000 doses arrived in the country over the weekend. With its delipidated health and medical infrastructures and very poor health services, Solomon Islands has very little choice but to vaccinate its people preferably before any community transmission occurs.
WHO should therefore provide the reasons for not certifying Sinopharm in real time and if it not for good enough reason then the doses should be rolled out?
For the safety of the general public, it is the right decision from the government not to roll out the Sinopharm vaccine until endorsement by WHO.
Some countries have received the Sinopharm vaccine but with very little information. It is alleged it does not guarantee the safety of people from any side effects of the vaccine once rolled out.
There are also other consideration and must ask questions to be raised as well.
According to information available, Solomon Islands received the first batch of the Sinopharm, the first country to do so amongst Pacific island countries that have diplomatic ties with China. It received the vaccine [the COVID-19 vaccine] from China through bilateral channels.
This should raise a number of questions as Solomon Islands diplomatic switch to China is most recent compared to our neighboring countries like PNG, Fiji and Vanuatu who had been with PRC longer than us.
They are yet to allow Sinopharm on their shores. Have we now become an easy target and a push over for the world-wide testing of Sinopharm?
With other vaccines available why not ask China to purchase those certified vaccines for Solomon Islands.
It just does not make any sense at all to allow it into the country before it is certified by WHO.
To recap, despite the offer of 100,000 Sinopharm doses from PRC for Papua New Guinea (PNG), the vaccine is yet to gain approval from PNG regulators.
Solomon Islands however could not wait to have the Sinopharm vaccine landed on their shores.
This means extra cost to the Solomon government for storage purposes, since the vaccine requires very low temperature for storage needing more electricity consumption to keep the vaccine safe, pending WHO’s certification.
With frequent power cuts how safe will these vaccines be by the time WHO certifies it.
TSI welcomes the decision from the Solomon government not to use the Sinopharm vaccine at this time, but like to reiterated that the doses should have been kept off-shore waiting since any feedback from WHO on the vaccine will most likely be at the end of this month (April).
And if the vaccine is not certified by WHO it will have been a costly exercise for the government in terms of storage.
Transparency Solomon Islands urges WHO to quickly provide any feedback and calls on the government to reduce the CDF allocation and use the funds to buy vaccine for our people of the certified ones.
TSI like any other citizens have no problem with the PRC’s Sinopharm, but sees the certification with the rightful international health bodies as a must and this should be a condition for bringing in any vaccine into the country. It is not as if there is no other vaccine.
It is important that Solomon Islands does not lend itself to Covid-19 vaccine diplomacy for political propaganda.
The Executive Government must not gamble the lives of citizens, using the covid-19 vaccine diplomacy to promote China or the western ideology.
It is the health of Solomon Islands citizens that is paramount and we must ensure the entire nation is safe from the pandemic.
Thus, any covid-19 vaccine shipped into Solomon Islands must have received certification from WHO before arriving in the country or rolling it out.
Transparency Solomon Islands thanks China for supplying the covid-19 vaccines despite it having to wait for WHO certification.
Please provide the information needed by WHO to certify the Sinopharm so that Solomon Island and countries needing assistance can benefit.
For the last two weeks the country has rolled out AstraZeneca vaccine, supplied through Covax facility.
TSI commend the supports from Australia, Solomon Government and WHO for facilitating the shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccines.
In the meantime, TSI reiterates the need and importance of WHO certification of the Sinopharm vaccine before any roll out plan is implemented and for WHO to explain why it has not certified Sinopharm to date as compared to those it did certify.