COVID resistance detected; vaccine urgency spikes
The Ministry of Health’s (M.O.H.) Director General, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, says a kind of resistance to COVID-19 has been detected in Samoa’s villages making vaccination all the more urgent.
Speaking during a press conference on Friday, Leausa said Samoa does not have to look far to know that Samoa will not be able to handle an outbreak of COVID-19 referencing Fiji’s continued battle with the Delta variant outbreak.
He said whilst vaccination rates are growing, Samoa still has a long way to go, but some people’s resistance towards the vaccine can dangerously slow down the nation’s progress to reach its 99 per cent target by October.
“We have noticed from last week and the end of this week, there are so many people who are being approached by our mobility teams – because not only do we have sites at the district hospitals, mobile teams are dispatched to help reach families farther inland – and there are families there that we couldn’t tell if they were pretending or not,” he said.
“They told the teams that they have already been vaccinated but when we asked for their vaccination cards they said they have lost them, and they refuse to be vaccinated.
“Some claim they have been vaccinated and at the end tell us they will not be vaccinated.
“Such actions can slow down our progress into protecting Samoa.”
Leausa said extensive studies into vaccines show that they can guarantee protection upon the nation from the virus. He also clarified that the vaccine does not make the individual immune, but it does protect them from the severe implications of the highly contagious disease unless there are other underlying conditions that cause complications.
“We continue to look at Fiji with worry,” he said.
“Their situation continues to worsen as community cases continue to spread, as the number of deaths also increases due to many other complications; and they are far from completing vaccination.
“Fiji received vaccines before we did, but they were careless and took their time, thinking the virus would not land on their shores.
“And that’s the same concern for us. We see that there is still that spirit amongst our people; there is no sense of urgency, thinking and saying they believe the virus will not arrive in Samoa.
“But I believe that the virus will get here but we don’t know when. What’s most important now is we have this period allowing us to get our vaccinations done so that whatever times the virus does come; our bodies have been prepared to resist it.
“If the virus were to arrive next week, our hospitals would never suffice for the number of people who will be sick as our vaccination rate remains so low.
Samoa remains COVID-19 free and on Level 1 alert level, the National Emergency Operation Centre interim Chairman, Agafili Shem Leo also said.
Agafili assured the nation that the international border remains shut with the exception of repatriation flights bringing in returning nationals.
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