Solomon Islands and Australia are committed to working together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, saving lives and protecting our economies. Australia will provide Solomon Islands with large quantities of safe and effective vaccines over the coming months.
Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan formally handed over the first delivery of Australian-made AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to the Minister for Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Hon. Dr. Culwick Togamana at the National Medical Stores.
Delivering his remarks, Health Minister Hon Dr Culwick Togamana thanked the government of Australia for the initial batch of 13,000 AstraZeneca vaccine dose from the 60,000 doses committed for Solomon Islands.
‘We are very grateful for the support because despite ongoing response to the pandemic, having to deal with over 30,000 COVID-19 positive cases and over 900 deaths, let alone lockdowns, travel restrictions and other measures set in place to curb COVID-19. Australia still finds a space in its heart to share the initial 13,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with commitments for more vaccine supplies’.
‘This consignment of vaccines has contributed significantly to re-strategizing vaccine roll out which is now open for all persons 18 years and above in Honiara and Guadalcanal, thus will surely speed up vaccination coverage in the coming days and weeks. As such sincere thank you to the government and people of Australia’ stated Dr Culwick.
Underscoring the close public health partnership, Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan, discussed the safety and effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine and highlighted Australia’s broader commitments to support the Solomon Islands realise their vaccination targets.
‘This first consignment of 13,000 AstraZeneca doses is part of Australia’s larger commitment to provide the Solomon Islands Government’s with a reliable supply of safe and effective vaccines to vaccinate the population of the country’, said Dr Strahan. ‘The CSL plant in Melbourne manufactured these doses according to the most stringent standards.’
‘The AstraZeneca vaccine provides strong protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death; said Dr Strahan. ‘Importantly, the latest data indicates that the AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 per cent effective against the Delta strain of the virus with two doses.’
‘The Solomon Islands Government has done a magnificent job keeping COVID-19 out of the country. But other nations have experienced sudden outbreaks, highlighting the importance of vaccinating populations as soon as possible just in case’, said Dr Strahan.
Dr Strahan noted that New Zealand would also be delivering additional AstraZeneca doses soon through COVAX, underlining the importance of international cooperation.
Dr Strahan said he would have his own second AstraZeneca shot in several weeks here in Honiara. He urged as many people as possible to do the same.
This consignment of 13,000 AstraZeneca doses forms part of Australia’s broader commitment to help vaccinate quickly our friends and neighbours in the Pacific at a time when the international supply of vaccines is constrained.
To date, Australia has delivered 340,000 vaccine doses in total to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu and Timor-Leste. Australia is prioritising sharing its vaccines with those at risk of, or currently experiencing, an outbreak.
Australia is doing more than simply supplying vaccine doses. It is also funding essential cold chain equipment, logistical support and technical training of health care workers to ensure the doses are administered safely across Solomon Islands.
In addition to supplying AstraZeneca doses manufactured in Melbourne, Australia is providing COVID-19 vaccine support through two other important channels.
Vaccine and delivery support is being delivered through Australia’s regional $523.2 million Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative. Under this initiative, Australia has sealed a recent partnership with UNICEF to provide Solomon Islands and other countries in the region with further access to safe and effective vaccines.
To complement this comprehensive initiative, Australia has committed AUD$130 million to the global COVAX Facility’s Advance Market Commitment to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries.
Australia’s support for a Pacific response to the global pandemic builds on our longstanding and ongoing investment in health services and combating other infectious and non-communicable disease threats.
Joint Press from MHMS & Australian High Commission