Australia will give one million doses of its internationally-produced AstraZeneca vaccine supplies to Papua New Guinea as the country battles a widespread outbreak of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would also send 8,000 locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccines to PNG to help immunise health workers.
“We’ve known that that challenge was always going to be too great for Papua New Guinea, as time went on, and that indeed is proving to be the case now,” he said today.
Australia is making a formal request to both AstraZeneca and the European health authorities to send one million doses of the 3.8 million internationally-produced doses contracted by Australia to PNG.
Australia will also send personal protective equipment supplies, including one million surgical masks and 100,000 protective goggles, gloves and gowns.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said a lack of testing resources in PNG meant any numbers currently being made public could be “a major underestimate”.
“From the places that are able to be doing testing … almost half the samples are positive,” Prof Kelly said.
“When people are being admitted into hospitals in Port Moresby, half of women who are coming in due to pregnancy are positive, we’re seeing a large number of healthcare workers on the frontlines in Papua New Guinea Now coming down with COVID-19.”