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In addition to testing and protective behaviours, vaccines will be another important tool to protect people against Covid-19 and save lives, however, vaccines alone will not beat the pandemic, according to Papua New Guinea Health Secretary Dr Osborne Liko.
“Vaccines are one of the most effective public health interventions for protecting health,” he said.
“Even when we start vaccinating people against Covid-19 in PNG, we must continue with proven, basic preventative measures to protect ourselves, our family and community.
“The news of Covid-19 vaccines starting to roll out in the rest of the world is promising and the Health Department, WHO and partners are working hard to try to secure initial doses for PNG.”
Dr Liko said though vaccines alone won’t end the pandemic, they will be an extremely important additional tool in strengthening our response to Covid-19 when used in combination with the other measures we know work.
“Current evidence shows that the existing Covid-19 vaccines are effective at stopping disease, but we still don’t know if they prevent people from becoming infected with the virus.
“This means that being vaccinated will stop you getting sick, but it may not prevent you from passing the virus onto others,” Dr Liko said.
He said it is also the case that while these new vaccines are very promising, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective.
“So even when vaccines are rolled out, we must maintain adherence to all the other measures that we know work to stop transmission of Covid-19.”
WHO Country representative Dr Luo Dapeng said vaccines distributed through the COVAX Facility undergo extensive clinical trials and vigorous assessments and meet global standards set by WHO.
“Once in country, these will then be approved for use by the Health Department, PNG’s national regulatory authority, to ensure quality control and assess safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine before approving for use in country,” he said.
Dr Liko said the initial phase of the vaccine rollout in PNG will target high risk groups like frontline health care workers, followed by older persons and individuals with chronic underlying conditions.
“We must protect those most vulnerable to infection and severe symptoms first.
“These vaccines are by no means a ‘silver bullet’ that will end the pandemic in the near future.
“Even with vaccination, it is critical that we must continue with other proven preventative measures,” he said.
Dr Liko said maintaining physical distance, hand hygiene, staying home when sick, wearing of masks, avoiding crowed spaces – all the behaviours we have been promoting for the last year – must be continued.
“As long as the virus is circulating, everyone remains at risk.
The challenge is to ensure everyone understands that the risk is not over,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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