The Government of Japan has provided 56,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Solomon Islands via the COVAX Facility to strengthen vaccination rollout.
Today, Solomon Islands received COVID-19 vaccines from the Government of Japan through the COVAX Facility – a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as the key delivery partner.
The 56,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured in Japan, will contribute towards fully vaccinating more than 414,000 vaccine eligible Solomon Islanders by the end of 2021.
Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands, H.E. MORIMOTO Yasuhiro, handed over these vaccines to the Government of Solomon Islands in an official ceremony held at the Henderson International Airport. In attendance at the handover ceremony were Health Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana and Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil, Chief of UNICEF Solomon Islands Office Dr Zelalem Taffesse and Officer in Charge, WHO Solomon Islands Dr Simon Burggraaf.
“The Ministry of Health is currently rolling out COVID-19 vaccines across the provinces, with only 3 out of the 10 provinces remaining for launch and roll out to all eligible persons 18 years and above. Coupled with the fact that the majority of the population resides in the provinces, the Ministry is very grateful for this timely support as it will contribute to the stock of COVID-19 vaccines available for the ministry to roll out to these provinces”, highlighted the Health Permanent Secretary Mrs. McNeil.
She extended her thanks also to the support rendered by Japan towards the Ministry’s overall COVID-19 preparedness and response including medical equipment and consumables and commitment of Japan for further support in terms of logistics. “Thank you so much Japan and I would also like to thank WHO and UNICEF for the partnership with COVAX Facility which has enabled the smooth movement and safe arrival of the vaccines into the country. Thank you as well to all those behind the scenes that had enabled the process for the vaccines to arrive, National Medicines and Therapeutic Committee for the approval for use in country and the National Medical Stores for cold storage of the vaccines”.
His Excellency MORIMOTO Yasuhiro, Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands in his remarks explained that the delivery of the 56,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines was a fulfillment of Japan’s Prime Minister H.E SUGA Yoshihide commitment to support the Pacific Island Forum countries with 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
“This ceremony this afternoon is a fulfilment of this commitment and I am grateful that Solomon Islands through this arrangement is receiving 56,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Japan. Thank you to the United Nation Backed COVAX Facility and WHO and UNICEF for supporting its shipment and delivery to Solomon Islands”, said the Ambassador MORIMOTO.
Mr. MORIMOTO also expressed sincere appreciation towards the government of Solomon Islands under the leadership of Hon. Prime Minister, Minister of Health and the Ministry of Health in collaboration with other local, regional and international partners for the job well done in preventing a community transmission to date.
“We thank the Government and people of Japan for their commitment to the COVAX Facility that ensures equitable access to vaccines in the world, including the small and geographically dispersed population in Solomon Islands,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “UNICEF would also like to acknowledge the Government of Solomon Islands’ public health leadership. We will continue to strongly support these efforts in keeping children, their families and communities, safe.”
Officer in Charge of WHO Solomon Islands Office Dr Simon Burggraaf highlighted increase in the number of COVDI-19 cases in Pacific island countries such as Fiji and French Polynesia. “Therefore the donation of the vaccine doses by Japan to Solomon Islands is very generous and will preserve the health and lives of the people should there be a community transmission of the virus”.
Dr Burggraaf added, “There are now numerous vaccine effectiveness studies that have analysed the performance for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, including studies showing protection is retained and is high against serious outcomes of Delta variant COVID-19. Studies have demonstrated that the effectiveness against hospitalization due to Delta variant with two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine remains over 70% as well”.
As vaccines are now rolling out around the world, they should complement, and not replace, proven public health measures. Solomon Islands, like other countries, will continue to apply tried-and-tested measures to successfully prevent and control transmission, such as physical distancing, masks, ventilation and hand hygiene, alongside robust programmes to test, trace, isolate and treat.
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to boost the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access to every country in the world.
In ensuring the safety and efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine has undergone rigorous clinical trials and safety assessments to ensure it meets the highest level of safety standards.