PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s opposition leader Belden Namah has called upon the Marape government to halt the use of any Covid-19 vaccines until a comprehensive report has been tabled in parliament.
Namah said Marape has a duty to present a report on the effects of Covid, the government's measures to protect the population, an accounting of funds allocated, and an update on the PNG-originated vaccine to which the prime minister granted K 10.2 million.
"Until this report is made public or presented to parliament, Papua New Guineans must not be exposed to any vaccine test," Namah said.
"PNG does not need any vaccines because the prime minister has already announced our own 'miracle cure'.
“He allocated K10.2 million towards that effort."
Namah urged the prime minister and the team of doctors at NiuGini Biomed to come forward with its vaccine, which company chairman Dr Bomai Kerenga said last October was being developed by “a team of highly qualified and talented medical doctors and scientists.”
Kerenga said the team was looking for a Covid-19 cure among generic drugs.
“We need this information to develop vaccine and identify drugs to repurpose for treatment against Covid-19,” he said.
At the time, Marape stated, “I am certain that we can find new medicines amidst all this biodiversity in our blessed land.
“To my critics; don’t think I am stupid. I know exactly what I want to do for my country.”
Namah challenged Marape and Niugini Biomed to start rolling out the vaccine, suggesting that the prime minister, his cabinet ministers and “those so-called doctors who have discovered this miracle cure” should be the first to receive the vaccine.
He said Covid may be killing scores of Papua New Guineans, “but that has yet to be proven.”
“The government needs to provide evidence that people diagnosed with Covid-19 really have it and not just some pre-existing medical condition or some seasonal virus.
"It is well known that viruses mutate and are more or less effective in certain atmospheric conditions. We live in a hot, humid climate near the equator. These conditions can and may have impacted the virulence of the virus.
"Until we know for certain, we cannot just go ahead and copy everything the first world is doing.
"The team of experts who have been engaged in this from the start should provide us a comprehensive report on the effects of Covid-19 and the response to it by this government and what are the results of those actions.
"This is the sanest and the most responsible position to take for any good government."
So far Papua New Guinea has recorded less than 1,000 Covid cases and only 10 deaths.
There is no evidence to verify widespread rumours that Papua New Guineans have resistance to the disease or that many Covid cases are due to other causes.
There is high mortality in PNG but no reliable data about causes of death because registration is inadequate and health data is gathered for only a small proportion of deaths.
The health system also suffers from a critical shortage of doctors and nurses