The Leader of Opposition, Hon. Matthew Wale, has expressed dismay at the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday 15th March 2021 on the quantities of vaccines required for Solomon Islands compared to the vaccines that have been pledged under the COVAX facility and China.
In his earlier statement, the Hon. Prime Minister said that Solomon Islands, excluding people under 18 years of age, needs at least 1 million doses of Covid vaccines but only has commitments for a total of 128,000.
The Prime Minister also said if it is discovered that those under 18 years of age can be safely vaccinated, an additional 600,000 doses would be required.
However, in his response, the Opposition Leader said the government’s approach seems to be one of banking totally on donors.
The Opposition Leader stressed that, “Solomon Islands must take the matter of vaccines totally in its own hands and find and spend the money to acquire the vaccines most suited to our context. In the matter of vaccines, the Solomon Islands people must not be held at the mercy of donors – who are giving priority to their own populations and countries of great need and of geopolitical priority to them. In this pandemic, it is clear there is great vaccine inequality. This is made worse if Solomon Islands depends totally on donor goodwill for its supply”.
Hon. Wale said the Prime Minister must work hard to secure the entire 1.6 million vaccine doses needed for Solomon Islands. And it is important that the government make adequate provision in the budget to procure these vaccines on our own.
Hon. Wale said the AstraZeneka vaccine has been listed at USD4 per dose. For 1.6 million doses, this comes to a total of USD6.4 million – a total of SBD51.2 million. Hon. Wale said this is entirely within our own affordability and government is being negligent in depending totally on donors for vaccine supply.
“It is important to our society and economy and its opening up to the rest of the world that our entire population is vaccinated. We do not have control over this, if the government is at the mercy of donors to supply the vaccines. This matter is so important that the government may have to borrow funds for it, as is the case in many other countries around the globe,” the Opposition Leader adds.
Hon. Wale therefore calls on the Prime Minister to urgently pursue procuring the total required vaccine doses on our own, adding that any quantities received from COVAX and donors should be bonus on our own financed supplies.