Samoa could have COVID19 vaccine by March 2021

Samoa could have access to COVID-19 vaccine as early as March or April in 2021.

This was revealed by the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, during a press conference called by the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) on Thursday.

Leausa, who was accompanied by the Interim Chairperson of N.E.O.C., Agafili Shem Leo, said they met representatives of Samoa's development partners and the United Nations on Tuesday where the issue was raised.

He said Samoa has already submitted its registration for countries that will receive a COVID-19, calling for the timely distribution of the vaccine as soon as it can be made available in this part of the world.

The Director General said details of how the roll out will work are still being finalised. But there is talk that the first lot will target at least two per cent of the population for each country, with discussions ongoing on who will be selected to receive it.

“There is hope that we might get a lot of vaccines to cover all our people because if we look at India, 2 per cent of its population can make up the whole Pacific islands population," he said.

“Or we can urge for 40 per cent of our population instead of 2 per cent so that many people are covered." 

A lot of countries have looked at the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine but the difficulty is the storage but there are 12 other vaccines that are being unveiled but the U.N. are also looking at it for future plans, Leausa explained.

“While Samoa will consider what is relevant to our people because we do not want to repeat what happened in Savai'i," he said.

"The vaccine is good but it was a human error or it could be the opposite where the vaccine could have complications. All these things are being considered by the ministry so that we can avoid [any other tragedies] anything like that.

“There is belief that by March or April we will have the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Asked who will be given the priority for the vaccines, he said that decision has yet to be finalised.

But frontline workers such as immigration officials, health officials including Government representatives could be included in that list. 

However, Leausa also revealed that there are mutant cases of COVID-19 found in Britain and South Africa which has led to a renewed travel advisory which could become effective by the end of this week.

There is a consideration of banning travel of those coming from Britain and South Africa because of the concern behind a slight new change in the COVID-19 virus, he added.

He also said that they are also concerned that this new change in the virus has spread to neigbouring countries but 

Furthermore, the Health Chief said that on Wednesday they also confirmed that a vessel, Coral Islander, crew member in port in American Samoa has tested positive for Covid-19 which led to the ship being prohibited from docking at the wharf in Samoa.

However, he also said that so far, all incoming passengers for flights that arrived early December have tested negative for COVID-19. 

He also urged members of the member of the public to refrain from too much travelling and to uphold hygiene practices of washing hands.

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