SOLOMON STAR – 12 April 2021 – Author Editor
We are the first Pacific nation to receive Chinese made vaccines
THE much anticipated fifty thousand (50,000) doses of SinoPharm vaccines have arrived around midnight last night from China making the country the first in the region to receive the Chinese-made doses.
The doses which are donated by the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) were airlifted on a special chartered flight operated by Solomon Airlines.
The airbus left for China on Saturday and returned yesterday. It touched at around 11.45 pm last night.
The consignments were unloaded, decontaminated before it was officially handed over to the Solomon Islands Government by the PRC embassy office in Honiara.
Present at the Honiara International Airport last night were PRC Ambassador His Excellency Li Ming, Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga, Minister of Health and Medical Services Dr. Culwick Togamana, and other health officials.
The consignments were handed over by Ambassador Li to Health Minister Togamana and DPM Maelanga.
Speaking at the midnight ceremony, Ambassador Li said the shipment brought about goodwill and friendship of the Chinese people towards the Solomon Islands people.
“Bilaterally speaking, China is the first country to have delivered vaccines in aid to Solomon Islands, and Solomon Islands is the first country in Pacific to have received China-donated vaccines.
“The move testified to our people’s true friendship and strong partnership based on mutual trust and sincere cooperation,” he said.
He said, the Chinese government pays high attention to the health and well-being of overseas Chinese nationals and has worked with their host countries to help them get vaccinated.
“We expect the Solomon Islands Government could prioritise Chinese nationals in its SinoPharm vaccination roll-out plan,” he said.
Ambassador Li said vaccines are vital for beating the virus and saving lives.
“We are hopeful that access to SinoPharm vaccines will help further protect the health and safety of Solomon Islands people, prevailing over the pandemic and revitalising the economy of Solomon Islands,” he said.
The PRC envoy took time to thank all those who turned up for the event.
Members of the Chinese Association in the country were also present.
In response, Minister Togamana thanked PRC for the donation.
He said, being the first Pacific island country to receive the Chinese vaccine is a landmark event and testament to the China-Solomon Islands friendship and joint efforts in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, with the global pandemic, it is not an easy task to secure COVID-19 vaccines let a lot of uncertainties with international shipping schedules.
“This had led the government through the Ministry of Health to accept the donation despite World Health Organistion (WHO) still in the process of reviewing the vaccine for its approval for emergency use.
“Nevertheless, the government is expecting approval by WHO soon and once this is done, we will roll out distribution and administration of these SinoPharm vaccines as per the roll-out plan health is compiling,” he said.
Minister Togamana said the donation is only part of the many shared benefits in the ever-growing strong relationship and friendship between the two countries in the combined efforts against COVID-19.
“Thank you China, thank you so much,” he said.
The main signing of the transfer document/certificate for the 50,000 SinoPharm vaccines between Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and PRC will be witnessed by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare this afternoon at the Cabinet room.