The shipment was delivered to Vietnam on the basis of a government-level agreement on vaccine transfer recently signed by Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and GAVI, according to Nguyen Tat Thanh, Ambassador of Vietnam to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Nauru and Solomon Islands.
The vaccines were channeled through COVAX with assistance from international organisations such as WHO, GAVI and UNICEF.
The vaccines were originally sourced from New Zealand’s donations but they were yet to be used in Papua New Guinea due to local people’s hesitation to get vaccinated.
Grabbing the chance, ambassador Thanh contacted John Ma'o Kali, High Commissioner for Papua New Guinea to Australia and requested that the island nation in Oceania urgently transfer the vaccines to Vietnam for use first.
New Zealand and multilateral institutions will seek and deliver the vaccines back to Papua New Guinea if it needs.
Besides Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific region, Australia is actively supporting Vietnam in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with its commitment to deliver 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Vietnam this year, Australia has also pledged to provide AUD40 million to help Vietnam access vaccines over three years.
Of the total, AUD34 million will be channeled through multilateral mechanisms such as UNICEF to assist with distribution and technical advice, and the remaining AUD6 million will be supported bilaterally.