Brunei Darussalam has finally received the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility, comprising of 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca ahead of the National Vaccination Programme.
The shipment which arrived on Friday morning from Amsterdam via Singapore is the first of a total 100,800 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines with the remaining to arrive in batches by end of June.
In the previous press conference, Health Minister Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar announced that Brunei Darussalam Medicines Control Authority has granted special authorisation to three vaccines namely; Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinopharm.
The mass vaccination programme is slated to commence on 3 April and the sultanate has already received 52,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines from China last February. Meanwhile, shipment for Pfizer-BioNTech is expected to arrive at a later date.
“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 the minister.
He further said that with the commencement of the programme, the ministry will also conduct post-market surveillance and actively monitors the safety profile of vaccines as well as working with other international regulatory counterparts to ensure the vaccines are safe and effective to use.
In the first phase of the immunization programme, vaccines will be inoculated to frontliners, senior citizens aged 60 and above as well as students who will be studying abroad.
The second phase includes staff working at daycare centres, teachers and adults with cormobidities while the third phase is for other individuals aged 18 and above.
The ministry added that based on current evidence, the COVID-19 vaccine can protect individuals from severe disease and reduce hospitalisations and deaths. Nevertheless, it is still important for the public to remain vigilant and continue to take the usual precautions by adopting and practicing preventive measures as recommended.
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, said the health ministry in a statement.
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.
Head of Mission and World Health Organisation Representative to Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore Dr Jacqueline Lo Ying-Ru said that 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.
“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,” she said.
UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar said that they 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 immunisation campaign. The arrival of vaccines in Brunei gives us hope that there is an end to the pandemic,” he said.
On hand to welcome the arrival of the vaccines at the Brunei International Airport were Acting Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Health Haji Maswadi Haji Mohsin and Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the Ministry of Health Dr Haji Zulaidi Haji Abd Latif.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN