Chinese Vaccine Arrived and Handed over to Vanuatu
2021-06-07 17:38

On June 7th, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government arrived in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu and a handover ceremony was held at the National Convention Center. Vanuatu Prime Minister Bob Loughman, Deputy Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, Minister of Health Silas Bule, Foreign Minister Marc Ati, Minister of Tourism, Trade, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business James Bule, Minister of Climate Change Bruno Leingkone, Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu Zhou Haicheng as well as other senior officials from the Vanuatu government, WHO officers in Vanuatu and representatives of the Chinese companies in Vanuatu were present. Prime Minister Loughman and Ambassador Zhou signed the handover certificate during the ceremony.

PM Loughman expressed sincere appreciation to the Chinese government on behalf of the government and the people of Vanuatu for the on-going support and generous assistance to Vanuatu in this difficult time, when many countries around the globe are struggling to adapt to the new normal. He said that the arrival of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine marked another milestone in Vanuatu's fight to keep itself free from the COVID-19 virus, which came as a fruit of the Vanuatu-China comprehensive strategic partnership. He congratulated the government of China for this joint achievement and spoke highly of the Vanuatu-China relationship and China's generous assistance to Vanuatu over the years, adding that the Vanuatu government was looking forward to working closely with the Chinese government to maintain this good relationship for more fruitful outcomes in the future.

In his remarks, Ambassador Zhou commended the arrival of the vaccine as a great achievement of China and Vanuatu in joint anti-pandemic fight, emphasizing that it was a proof that China had been delivering the commitment of making COVID-19 vaccine a global public good made by President Xi Jinping. "China donated the first batch of Chinese vaccine and had it sent to Port Vila in less than a month after WHO's listing of the Sinopharm Vaccine, notwithstanding limited production capacity and enormous demand at home. It also reaffirmed China's commitment to supporting Vanuatu's pandemic response and economic recovery. I believe that these doses of vaccine will contribute to Vanuatu's plan for completing the first vaccination rollout by the end of this year", he continued.

Zhou stressed that since the onset of the pandemic, China and Vanuatu had worked hand in hand and set a model for joint epidemic response. "To clinch an early victory against COVID-19 and restore economic growth remains the top priority for the whole world, including China and Vanuatu. China will continue to stand firmly by Vanuatu's side through all challenges, work with global partners to help Vanuatu roll out the vaccination program safely and smoothly, and improve Vanuatu's public health system in a bid to enhance its preparedness and capability for coping with major public health emergencies, " he concluded.

The batch of Sinopharm vaccine was transported via Air Vanuatu's charter flight and arrived at Port Vila in the early morning of June 7th, which was witnessed by Ambassador Zhou and Mr. Tamata, Director General of the Vanuatu Ministry of Health. It was the second batch of COVID-19 vaccine and first bilateral donation Vanuatu has received.

This was the first-ever direct flight operated by Air Vanuatu between China and Vanuatu. As a major effort to facilitate personnel exchanges between the two countries and resumption of work and production, the flight also brought around 80 Chinese engineers and technicians to Vanuatu. They will participate in the construction of key bilateral cooperation projects.

While keeping the country free of any community transmission of the Coronavirus, Vanuatu has made a plan to vaccinate its priority group that accounts for 20% of its population by the end of 2021. Vanuatu has included China-donated vaccine doses in the plan and will start the vaccnation rollout soon.