Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Why Vaccines of COVID -19 arrive in Brunei Darussalam Too Late Compared To Sarawak ?


April 02, 2021 (Friday) :

Brunei  Darussalam nearest of Sarawak State, Malaysia has received the first or a series of COVID - 19 vaccine doses shipped via the COVAX Facility, or COVID - 19 Vaccine Allocation Plan, a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). This is a historic step in the fight against the COVID - 19 pandemic and in ensuring the safety of the people in Brunei Darussalam. The delivery is part of a wave of arrivals that will continue over the coming months.


" Vaccination is the most effective measure to protect oneself, loved ones, and even the community from the harmful effects of COVID-19. In the medium and long term, the more people are vaccinated, the higher the level of immunity of the population against the disease," said Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham Bin Haji Jaafar, Minister of Health, Brunei Darussalam during the Press Conference on the The Launch Of The National Vaccination Program For COVID - 19 on April 01, 2021 (Thursday).


On March 31, 2021, COVAX shipped 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, from Amsterdam via Singapore to Brunei Darussalam, arriving on the morning of April 02, 2021. These 24,000 doses are the first of a total of 100,800 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine expected to be provided in batches by the COVAX Facility by the end of June. Receiving the vaccines at the Brunei International Airport was Haji Maswadi Bin Haji Mohsin, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Dr Haji Zulaidi bin Haji Abd Latif, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional), Ministry of Health.


The COVAX Facility is an unprecedented global effort to provide every country in the world with equitable access to safe COVID - 19 vaccines as rapidly as possible. COVAX is part of the Access to COVID - 19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equal access to COVID - 19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.


" WHO is in solidarity with the people of Brunei Darussalam and partners in welcoming the arrival of the COVID - 19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility," said Dr Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline, Head of Mission and WHO Representative to Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore. " Vaccines save lives and the arrival of these vaccines will help protect the priority groups identified by Brunei Darussalam - first and foremost health workers and other front-liners. Getting vaccinated, in combination with other proven public health measures, is a very important step for people to be protected against COVID-19."


" We welcome the arrival of the first batch of COVID - 19 vaccines in Brunei as part of the COVAX Facility. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Ministry of Health and other partners to reach the people of Brunei with life-saving vaccines. We look forward to the next shipments, and a successful immunization campaign. The arrival of vaccines in Brunei gives us hope that there is an end to the pandemic," said Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam.


Similar considerations for the use of "pooled" resources have been made before, particularly for procurement of medications by Brunei Darussalam and other countries in the region, and the COVAX Facility is an excellent example of the implementation of this concept.


As an addition to procurement through the COVAX Facility, the Ministry of Health will be procuring vaccines through bilateral arrangements as well. The COVID - 19 Vaccine Technical Committee will ensure that all the vaccines that will be administered to the public have met the necessary regulatory safety standards to protect the population.


The COVID - 19 Vaccination Programme will commence on Saturday, April 03, 2021, and will be implemented in three (3) phases according to different population groups :

1. Phase One : Includes frontliners, senior citizens aged 60 and above, as well as students or individuals who will be studying abroad.

2. Phase Two : Includes staff working at Daycare Centres, teachers and adults with high-risks / cormobidities.

3. Phase Three : Other individuals who are 18 years and above.

COVID - 19 vaccination centres will be set up in all the four (4) districts as follows:

Temburong District : Pengiran Isteri Hajjah Mariam Hospital


Belait District : Suri Seri Begawan Hospital


Tutong District : Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital, Tutong


Brunei Muara District : Indoor Stadium, Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex

For the first phase, frontliners, specifically medical staff in Government and private health facilities across the country, will receive the vaccines first, to be followed by other frontliners who have been identified as a priority group to receive the vaccines.

Based on current evidence, the COVID - 19 vaccine can protect individuals from severe disease and reduce hospitalizations and deaths. Nevertheless, it is still important for the public to remain vigilant and continue to take usual precautions by adopting and practicing preventive measures as recommended. This includes avoiding crowded places where possible, practicing physical distancing where necessary, wearing a face mask, staying home when you have flu-like symptoms, as well as frequently washing your hands, maintaining personal hygiene and practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette.

@ Jackie San


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