Media reports suggest that it is increasingly possible that Australia will supply vaccines to Papua New Guinea (PNG) from its domestic production of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Unpredictable vaccine deliveries from Europe have led Foreign Minister Marise Payne to indicate that locally-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses could be an option for supplying PNG. These doses are being produced by the Australian biotechnology company, CSL. Foreign assistance advocates have pressed the government to draw on domestic supplies, in the wake of the number of COVID-19 infections almost doubling in PNG in a week.
Vaccinations in PNG have been planned to commence in May 2021, with doses provided from the COVAX Facility, a global initiative co-led by the World Health Organization. However, India reportedly might also limit the export of those vaccine doses in order to meet local demand.
A PNG medical practitioner referred to the PNG health system as remaining in a “perpetual state of disaster”, with only one doctor for every 14,000 people.