Government to apply for covid-19 vaccine today for only 0.25 percent of country’s population


THE hype over covid-19 vaccine dies as reality sinks in with the possibility that Solomon Islands may only get enough vaccines for 0.25 percent of the population.

Government is reportedly submitting an application to COVAX today for this.

This may mean that only the front-liners and those immediately exposed to covid-19 while performing their jobs as well as patients with covid-19 will be the first to be immunised.

This is for the first batch of vaccines, and the rest of the population will have to wait longer for the next batches, which no one knows when we will receive them.

Previous reports said the country was expecting enough vaccines to cater for 20 percent of the population, but this changed last week.

Speaking during the talkback show at the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) yesterday, Dr Yogesh Choudri, advisor to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) said the government through MHMS will submit an application to COVAX today for the vaccines.

The application is for vaccine enough to immunise 0.25 percent of the country’s population.

“We made the application to COVAX last month………last week under the first roll out of COVAX, they (COVAX) will give us enough vaccine to immunise 0.25 percent of the total population.

“We will submit the application to COVAX tomorrow (today),” he said.

Mr Choudri explained that the process to get the vaccines takes time and whatever feedback depends entirely on COVAX.

“So, we have to make the application……we may get the vaccine or we may not get the vaccine is not confirmed yet, but we are making all the plans so that when we receive the vaccine, we will able to immunise the people,” he said.

Choudri said that there is another issue that needs to be addressed before the vaccine reached the country.

He said the vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degree Celsius.

“We don’t have minus 70-degree facility right now in Solomon Islands, so it will pose us operational challenges but we are getting ready for the actual advancement once we receive the vaccine,” Choudri said.

He said Solomon Islands government is one of the recipients under the COVAX mechanism of World Health Organisation (WHO).

Choudri explained that COVAX is a mechanism that has been set up by WHO, UNICEF, GAVI to supply vaccines to countries on an equitable basis.

He said the vaccine consideration is Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine which has been used all over the world.

In the meantime, Choudri said his team is having discussions with bilateral donors to supply extra vaccine.

He adds that his team is also monitoring the side effect of the vaccine to identify potential mitigation mechanism before immunisation rolls out.

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