The secret public life of an author
MSF: Australia blocked early PNG vaccine

Oz announces urgent Covid help to PNG

Payne & Morrison
Australia's foreign minister Payne and prime minister Morrison at this morning's media conference in Canberra (Channel 9)

| Transcribed by Peacifica | Edited

Peacifica supports and advocates peacebuilding in the South Pacific. Its philosophy is that building and sustaining peaceful societies is a critical challenge that Pacific islanders and Australians can meet together. Read more about Peacifica here

CANBERRA – What follows  are the major points from a media conference this morning addressed by Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison, foreign minister Marise Payne and chief health officer Dr Paul Kelly.

The event was attended by Peacifica and its transcription has been edited  for publication by PNG Attitude.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison:

Australia has always been concerned for our Pacific neighbours, who have done have an extraordinary job containing the pandemic.

But it was always going to be too big for Papua New Guinea.

Australians will always stand with PNG in every way.

PNG’s Covid outbreak contains risks to Australia.

Australia is now vaccinating people in Torres Strait islands to minimise risk of Covid spread in northern Australia.

Testing of people disembarking from PNG flights is continuing.

But we need to do more.

From midnight Australia will take the following measures to protect people in PNG and Queensland:

  1. Passenger flights from PNG to Cairns suspended (freight excepted)
  2. Non critical charter flights suspended
  3. Reduced number of passengers on Port Moresby - Brisbane flights.
  4. No more FIFO. People can either fly in or fly out of Australia, not both.

Lots of personal protective equipment (PPE) is being donated to PNG, including 200 non- invasive ventilators.

8,000 doses of Australia's current vaccine stock is going to PNG for frontline workers.

Australia is asking Astra Zeneca and the European Union to divert some of Australia's vaccine order to PNG.

More Australian medical personnel will be deployed to PNG.

There will be more border controls in the Torres Strait.

The Queensland government will extend the vaccine rollout into the treaty villages

Under the Covax facility, 500,000 vaccinations will be available in PNG by June.

Papua New Guineans are our family, friends, neighbours and partners.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly:

Any number of infected people you read about PNG will be a major underestimate.

Half of the pregnant women coming into PNG hospitals are testing positive.

It's a major breakout.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne:

We're engaging regularly and in depth with PNG's senior leaders.

The Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security is coordinating the exercise in partnership with the government of PNG.

An Australian emergency medical team (AusMat) will be in PNG from Monday laying the groundwork for later teams.

Responses to media questions:

Morrison: Emphasises that Australia is supporting PNG's initiative. The team AusMat going to PNG next week will help to frame Australia's contribution.

Morrison: Australia provided 200,000 masks for Sir Michael Somare’s funeral.

Payne: Many other specific things are being done to expand PNG’s case management capacity

Payne: There are many NGOs on ground that are part of the response.

Morrison (answering whether Australia’s response enough): We work as partners with Quad and others, and we work to protect Australia's borders. We will increase support over time, in partnership.

Morrison & Kelly: Squash speculation on vaccine hesitancy.

Kelly: Reports that vaccine uptake in the Torres Strait has been very good.

Morrison: Sounds confident that the European suppliers will agree to divert supplies to PNG. Some Australian-made vaccine will also go to the Pacific.

Morrison: Emphasises Australian generosity of spirit towards 'our family’.

Peacifica’s final observation:

Australia’s prioritisation of diverting Australian vaccines to be delivered straight from Europe to PNG is a huge gesture. Peacifica can't think of a more meaningful expression of Australian solidarity.


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Dr John Christie

Hydroxychloroquine is a less toxic form of chloroquine and is primarily used for rheumatoid arthritis, not the treatment of malaria although such a use is possible.

Chloroquine phosphate ("Niviquine") or chloroquine sulphate was and is used in PNG for the treatment of non chloroquine resistant malaria.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are highly toxic drugs with the lethal dose very close to the therapeutic dose.

There is currently no evidence that hydroxychloroquine is of any use in either the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

Given the highly toxic properties of hydroxychloroquine it is possible that it may actually have a deleterious effect on an already very ill COVID-19 patient.

Michael Dom

The Lancet paper which discredited hydroxychloroquine was eventually withdrawn.

I'll leave that there.

Is there an subtle but active (i.e. 'progressive'?) plan to disregard potentially cheap and effective drugs from being trialed and prescribed?

The vaccines will not be a permanent cure and drugs will be required to treat Covid-19 symptoms.

Perhaps PNG government should look to India for some more positive and practical inspiration.

Or maybe we can cut another deal with the Chinese.

No, you can't leave it there. Because you leave a false understanding. The Lancet initially got it wrong, admitted it was wrong and proceeded to get it right. Since then multiple high-quality studies published in many reputable journals have shown no benefit of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment. The people using it are doing their dough. The people promoting it should know better - KJ

Michael Dom

Use Ivermectin.

Cheap but effective.

Here's the reference for Ivermectin:

As you would expect, I did a search for a reputable source and quickly found the results of a clinical trial on Ivermectin published by The Lancet.

The summary states that "Ivermectin inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro at concentrations not readily achievable with currently approved doses. There is limited evidence to support its clinical use in COVID-19 patients."

More here

I have a serious chronic condition whose insistence deprives me of plenty of what I value most, time and clear cognition. It has no cure, except in the minds of some of the people I would disclose to.

Too many of them had 'cures' ranging from herbs to reiki. Some didn't believe it was an illness at all. Eventually I learned not to have these conversations. I was being treated by a leading professor and researcher in the field and his professional judgement was all I required.

I've published Michael's note in good faith because The Lancet article leaves some hope for Ivermectin. Also, I understand how most people in PNG must feel in the absence of doctors and vaccine.

But, when introduced to a drug that is lacking in clinical approval for a specific condition, there is always a risk that it will do you harm - KJ

Michael Dom

Peacifica is a stupid name.

Come to talk with us using that name tag, Pakehas.

You'll hear exactly what you want to hear.

Nothing new.

Bernard Corden

It is worth noting that hydroxychloriquine has been used extensively throughout PNG for the treatment of malaria.

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