The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is aware of concerns raised on social media on what is claimed to be contradictory statements made by the Prime Minister on his national addresses and Health Advisor Dr Yogesh Choudhri on the recent Sunday talk back show on SIBC, regarding use or roll out of Sinopharm Vaccines.
In one of his national addresses, the Prime Minister stated that the government will roll out the COVID-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, once approved by WHO for emergency use. Health Advisor on a recent vaccine talk back show on the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) had stated that there could be possible consideration to request the COVID-19 vaccine Technical Working Group (TWG) and the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) for COVID-19 vaccines in Solomon Islands to roll out the Sinopharm vaccine in the event of a community transmission.
Hence, the MHMS would like to clarify that the statement made by the Honourable Prime Minister that Sinopharm vaccines will be roll out upon approval by WHO for emergency use, is actually the current recommendation for the use of Sinopharm vaccines. Statement made by Health advisor is merely a possibility of rolling out the vaccine in Solomon Islands that can be considered in the event of a community transmission and depending on the epidemiological situation and what the country is trying to achieve.
As advisors to health, one of their key roles is to provide number of possible options for considerations by the Ministry and the government and in this case, Dr Choudhri mentioned one of the possibilities should there be a community transmission.
This statement was made as part of responding to one of the question raised by the member of the public during the talk show on why the rush to acquire Sinopharm when it has not yet received approval from WHO.
In responding to the question, panellists highlighted considerations made to accept the offer from China and the benefits of having it prepositioned in Honiara pending approval from WHO. These includes high global demand and limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines making it very difficult to acquire them. Thus, is in the interest of the country to have the Sinopharm vaccines prepositioned in Honiara, so once approval is granted by WHO, roll out can commence immediately.
Other considerations include that the vaccines were shipped by a chartered flight from China which was bringing in engineers for the South Pacific Games 2023 to Honiara, so there was an opportunity to ship the vaccines over at no cost at all to the government and the people of Solomon Islands.
It was in this context of outlining some of the considerations made to accept the offer of 50,000 Sinopharm vaccines and the advantage of prepositioning the vaccine in country, that Dr Choudhri made the statement.
Therefore, there was no contradictory statements made as the two referred to different situations in the larger interest of the Country and the people of Solomon Islands. Interpretations and analysis of these statements need to take into account the context under which they were made.