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Australia ensures Pacific vaccine access

As the Government continued to guard against the COVID-19 global pandemic, Australia has promised Samoa and its neighbours access to a future COVID-19 vaccine at an affordable price.

Australia recently made an investment of A$300 million (T$554 million) to a Vaccine Alliance, Gavi, which is, in turn, expected to provide health security to the region.

The investment will ensure planning for the future manufacturing and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available.

The new funding was announced by Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, at the recent Global Vaccine Summit.

Australia’s participation in the scheme will include other neighbouring countries such as Kiribati,  the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Gavi is a public-private partnership that provides access to vaccines for low-income countries.

Over the past two decades, Gavi has supported 16 countries in the Indo-Pacific Region with more than US$3 billion in vaccine and health system support. It has directly contributed to the immunisation health of an estimated more than 318 million children.

A media release issued by Senator Marise Payne, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Alex Hawkem, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, announced the initiative. 

Senator Payne said Australia will continue to work with its neighbours to respond to the COVID-19 challenge while continuing to manage other diseases preventable through vaccines.

“Immunisation saves lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has served as yet another reminder that investing in vaccine access is critical to regional health security,” Senator Payne said.

Gavi will invest US$800 million from 2021 to provide access to vaccines for 140 million children across the Indo-Pacific over five years.

In Indonesia, four million children will access pneumococcal vaccines at a quarter of their commercial cost.

In Papua New Guinea, 400,000 children will access life-saving vaccines for the first time. Australia’s commitment draws on its development budget.

In response to COVID-19 disruptions, Gavi will provide US$200 million to continue existing immunisation programs where possible, and coordinating catch-up immunisation campaigns.

As long as a vaccine for COVID-19 remains elusive, Governments will continue to take prudent approaches and Samoa’s borders will remain closed for as long as they possibly can, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said.

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