China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine launches in the Pacific
A Chinese COVID-19 vaccine has been launched in the Pacific, with the Deputy Prime Minister of Solomon Islands receiving the first Sinopharm shot in the region. To get more news about sinopharm vaccine: latest update, you can visit shine news official website.
China delivered 50,000 doses of Sinopharm to the capital Honiara before the vaccine was approved, but Friday's launch clears its use across the Pacific nation.
"Solomon Islands is the first country to put Sinopharm vaccines into its national roll-out plan," Li Ming, China's ambassador to the Solomon Islands, said.Solomon Islands will offer Sinopharm alongside the AstraZeneca vaccine to frontline workers and "special groups", including students who plan to travel to China, in what officials say is an integral step to get the population vaccinated.
"Had we not had this second option [of the Sinopharm vaccine] we will be placed in a very difficult situation where certain parts of our country may not be able to have the chance to be vaccinated," said Health Minister Culwick Togamana.
It comes the same week as Australia offers a further 60,000 doses of its locally-made AstraZeneca vaccine to the Pacific nation, in what some say points to a growing diplomatic rivalry between China and Australia in the region.Sinopharm was approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization earlier this month — the first COVID-19 vaccine developed by a non-Western nation to receive this backing.
But that facility is only committed to providing 20 per cent of a country's vaccine needs, which means many Pacific nations will need to find international donors to fill the gaps.Australia has already made 58,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to Pacific countries, including PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
Recent updates from AstraZeneca suggest an efficacy of 76 per cent, up from the initial 62-70 per cent reported from phase 3 clinical trials.
Pacific health officials say they are not concerned about where their vaccines come from — just that they will protect their citizens.Professor Fiona Russell from the University of Melbourne — who is on a WHO technical working group for COVID-19 vaccinations in the Western Pacific — said the possible need for three doses of Sinopharm "might be an issue" for Pacific countries with limited health budgets.
"If this is going to be an annual thing, then that's a real pain, it's just really difficult," Professor Russell said.
She also raised concerns around challenges Pacific health workers might face in administering both the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines.Both brands require at least two doses, but have differing schedules around when those shots need to be given and the number of doses per vial.
"It does make things more complicated ... particularly [for] small countries, which have got fewer human resources," Professor Russell said.Solomon Islands has delivered special training to health workers to help them administer the Sinopharm vaccine correctly.
Jelta Wong, PNG's Health Minister, said he welcomed the additional vaccines donated by China."We think that it is good to have a variety of vaccines in the country for our people," he said.Mr Wong earlier indicated Sinopharm would only be made available to Chinese citizens, but now says locals who want it instead of AstraZeneca can have it too.
"If they are not comfortable with taking the AstraZeneca, at least we have another vaccine that they're comfortable to take," he said.