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PNG social media & the Covid vaccination

VaccinationBEE DURESI
| Duresi's Odyssey

AUCKLAND - Last week I saw many social media commentaries by fellow Papua New Guineans regarding a newspaper article on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to PNG and other countries by the GAVI vaccine alliance.

I noted with interest how so many people were calling for a ban or an investigation into why only the countries listed did not contain names of developed nations.

Some people even suggested that only 'black nations' were targeted as part of an experiment.

I was tempted to reply to all the commentaries but, based on my experience during the Covid-19 lockdown, to do so would attract personal attacks on me rather than debating points of view.

So I write this blog post on my understanding of how GAVI works, why the news article did not list developed nations as recipients of the vaccine and a suggestion for how we could improve our Covid-19 information dissemination to the general public.

GAVI is an international organisation that works to improve access to vaccines for low income countries.

With the presence of Covid-19, they're now working to ensure there is equal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to these countries. Hence, the newspaper article list of country names, including PNG.

For those who are not aware, Covid-19 vaccines have already been rolled out in most developed nations. There is also a huge backlog of orders for developed nations.

I read last weekend that pharmaceutical companies are working overtime to try to meet the demand.

Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, France, China and the United Arab Emirates have already begun Covid-19 vaccination programs for its people.

So claiming that only developing nations are being targeted is misinformation and has the potential to mislead our people.

The development of vaccines, like any other drug development, must meet stringent regulatory requirements before it is given approval for use in the general public.

The current Covid-19 vaccines had to meet these requirements, including clinical testing.

New Zealand, for example, is currently procuring Covid-19 vaccines. It has put important, easy-to-understand public information on how the vaccines will be rolled out on its Medsafe website.

Included in that information is how Medsafe, the medicines regulator, tests the vaccine to make sure it’s safe and information about clinical trials.

The PNG Health department could take a leaf out of their page and ensure that with each news article about Covid-19 (including vaccinations), its website link could be included so our people could find more information if they wanted it.

I understand why people feel uneasy about patient safety and the whole Covid-19 vaccination process if they do not fully understand the processes to ensure risks are minimised.

Keep safe and do the important things needed to reduce your risk of catching Covid-19.

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion and does not represent that of any organisation I am associated with


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