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Covidiots and fake news swamp social media

Kramer
Bryan Kramer MP - engaged in a struggle to ensure the people of PNG take up vaccines in the face of a virulent social media campaign against them

BRYAN KRAMER MP
| Kramer Report

Social media in Papua New Guinea has been running hot with false information about Covid vaccine, with the rumours fed by fear mongers, conspiracy theorists, religious objectors, mystics, political opportunists, self-styled ‘experts’ and plain old troublemakers.

Many politicians, some of whom have had the disease, have spoken out strongly against those people who are undermining vaccination. But there’s one MP who can’t do that: Richard Mendani, 53, the member for Kerema, who died of the disease on Friday.

In this article Justice Minister Bryan Kramer (who has recovered from Covid), continues to try to bring science and sense to the people he calls ‘Covidiots’ - KJ

PORT MORESBY – There has been a post shared on social media, purportedly by Profession Peter Siba, making serious allegations about the integrity of the Department of Health Covid-19 committee.

The statement said:

“They have by-passed the PNG National Medical Research Advisory Committee which is the appropriate board that has been responsible for giving ethical clearance for all of the vaccines, drug and research in PNG since 1964.

“I wonder why the rush for by-passing the proper ethical body to introduce this commercial CV19 vaccine in PNG.”

It went on to claim:

“The PNG ‘Traitors’ CV19 Committee at NDoH [National Department of Health] are using WHO [World Health Organisation] and European ethical guidelines to introduce the vaccine in PNG….

“Shame!!! Shame!!! on those so called PNG National ‘EXPERTS’ for rushing to introduce this vaccine without producing hard laboratory and epidemiological data to indicate the severity of the disease.

“It is very clear now that the VACCINE IS FOR MONETARY GAINS AND NOT FOR HUMANITY.”

And later, Professor Siba posted this statement:

"Dear FB friends and friends please ignore and a delete a recent repost by a faker pretending to be me. I am not the Chairman of IMR [Institute of Medical Research] as stated in the post and no current affiliation with that institution."

This was also shared on the PNG government Whatsapp group by a fellow member.

Richard Mendani
Richard Mendani - the first PNG politician to die of Covid, passing away on Friday

Unaware of Professor Siba’s previous posts on social media and, with the understanding his response was referring to the entire post, I posted an article suggesting the entire post was fake and never authored by Professor Siba.

But I was later informed that Professor Siba did in fact make those statements, and was only disputing the reference that he was chairman of IMR.

To avoid any further confusion I contacted Professor Siba directly to establish whether or not he in fact made the statements concerning Covid vaccination. He confirmed that he had made those statements.

During our conversation, he said:

“I am not changing my views regarding the decision by the Government to endorse the introduction of the AstraZeneca Vaccine that WHO and foreigners want to use in PNG.

“The Medical Research Advisory Committee which is the PNG National Medical Ethics Committee has not been given the opportunity to examine and deliberate on the scientific and ethical issues related to this the usage of this vaccine.

“This same vaccine is now the debate of the pandemic with failure in many countries around the world. Vaccines are an excellent tool against preventing the population against viral and bacterial diseases, but not this current one.”

“Member, as a patriotic PNG, ethical issues are the concern here. I will not be threatened by anyone based on my personal views as a virologist, medical researcher actually involved with research on vaccines in PNG over 30 years.

“My people will not be used as Guinea pigs. See what's happened in Europe with this CV 19 vaccine AstraZeneca. I saw this coming. That's why I raised these issues a month ago. Hon. member, I will not be intimidated or threatened by anyone to change my views. I just need to be convinced that the vaccine that you are giving PNGeans is safe.

“Our concerns now are now for the health and well-being of our people. Therefore, all learned persons need to contribute to better decisions to advise our Government on how to control the spread and contain this virus. 

“I have always been available to help the government on this Cv19 but no one wants to involve myself and other learned PNGeans residing out of Pom.”

I asked if this was an evidence-based position, or whether it was his personal view.

His response: It's my own personal view.

PNG clinic staff
Health staff at a Port Moresby clinic

Following my conversation with Professor Siba, I removed my previous article.

My takeaway from this conversation is that there is a massive amount of false and misleading information being said or shared about the Covid-19, even by people in the medical profession who should know better to be making serious allegations without any evidence to support it.

And foolish opinions are being spread by people who are upset that they are ‘left out’ or not being properly listened to, despite the fact that their views may not be valuable.

So they have outbursts on social media which are then forwarded through the usual channels, causing distrust and confusion.

This distrust and confusion can have devastating real-life impacts if it stops people from getting vaccinated, protecting themselves against the virus, and keeping their loved ones safe.

I am only interested in the facts and credible evidence. So many Papua New Guineans are being so easily fooled by countless video testimony and publications on Covid-19 by persons who have NO authority, NO expertise or actual evidence to support their claims that the Covid vaccine is not safe or that Covid-19 is a fake virus.

Professor Siba claimed that the government bypassed PNG National Medical Research Advisory Committee (NMRC), which he said had been the appropriate board for giving ethical clearance for all vaccines, drugs and research in PNG since 1964.

However, I looked into the background of NMRC and noted its purpose is to approve any research being conducted in PNG by researchers. And that is its only responsibility.

With due respect to Professor Siba there is no Covid vaccine research being conducted in PNG to suggest there has been a breach of ethical protocol.

Now I'm sure Professor Siba like everyone else has genuine concerns about the government's decision to approve the use of Covid vaccine in PNG. These concerns are based on the fact that both the professor and everyone else know very little about the vaccine.

Covid vaccines have undergone trials involving more than 30,000 people before being approved. To date, over 397 million vaccinations have been administrated around the world – 118 million in the US alone.

Papua New Guinea’s total population is around 10 million. If more than 397 million vaccinations have been administered, why are we in PNG carrying on about whether it is safe or not and refusing to be ‘guinea pigs’.

When close to 400 million vaccinations have been given, we can hardly claim to be guinea pigs when the vaccine hasn’t even been rolled out in PNG. And when it is, it won’t be compulsory.

We’ll be lucky to secure enough vaccine for everyone who wants it.

By all means don’t take the vaccine. But stop pushing false and misleading information or being so easily fooled by Covidiots.

Comments

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Stacey Wagumisi

Spot on, Hon Bryan Kramer. These vaccinations are not compulsory, and nobody is being held at gunpoint to get them administered.

I guess what we ordinary citizens need is more awareness of what these vaccines are, how they work and what they intend to do to curb this disease.

And with 400 million vaccinations already rolled out around the world, I don't see how PNGeans are going to be used as lab rats, guinea pigs or whatever.

Please stop scaring the population, and instead empower our people with the right knowledge so they can make informed decisions.

Philip Kai Morre

Covid-19 vaccine needs proper clinical supervision from medical doctors to make sure it is properly administered.

In terms of medical ethics you cannot experiment on human beings injecting new vaccines that may have negative effects or take away an innocent life.

Please adhere to international ethical standard set up by WHO or other medical board.

However, if there is a Covid-19 vaccine already in place approved by ethical board but medical officers fail to administer it, this is professional negligence. You cannot wait that long while people are dying.
__________

The vaccine that is presently available to PNG is AstraZeneca which is safe and has been approved for us by many countries including Australia and the United Kingdom. Millions of people have gained significant protection from Covid as a result of being injected with this vaccine - KJ

Bernard Corden

The following links provide access to some recent fascinating articles from 'The Spectator Australia':

https://www.spectator.com.au/2020/09/covid-1984/

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/vaccine-wars-the-global-battle-for-a-precious-resource

https://spectator.com.au/2021/02/maskerade/

Despite its elitism and inherent right wing bias it produces quality journalism.

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