9,000 Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses arrived in The Kingdom of Tonga
The Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccines arrived from Australia on 20 July (today) as part of Australia's commitment to Tonga and the region to provide vital support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia is pleased to advise that these doses will be used to vaccinate vulnerable peoples in the island of Vava’u.
Australia's sharing of vaccines with the Pacific and Timor-Leste is part of our broader partnership response to the virus. "Australia is proud to stand by the people of Tonga and the region to fight this global crisis," said Australian acting Head of Mission Nicholas Murphy at a ceremony held to celebrate the arrival of the doses and their handover from Australia to Tonga.
"The arrival of the Australian-made vaccine in Tonga today is one of the key solutions to stem the social and economic impact of the pandemic. This is why Australia is so proud to be sharing its precious resources with Tonga. It is a scientifically sound thing to do, and it is the act of a good neighbour and friend," Mr Murphy ended.
This week's delivery to Tonga, and others in the Pacific, brings the total number of vaccines shared from Australia across the Pacific and Timor-Leste to almost 750,000.
In addition, through the regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative (the Intitative), Australia has committed AUD 2.3 million to purchase waste management equipment, including an environmentally friendlier Ecosteryl unit which does not produce greenhouse gases and toxic emissions like the traditional incincerator units. This will be the first Ecosteryl unit in use in Tonga, and the second for the Pacific. Through the Initiative, technical advice from some of the world's leading immunisation experts via Australia's Therapeutic Goods Association and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance is also available to support Tonga’s COVID-19 response and vaccine campaigns.
Australia has also supported the provision of GeneExpert and PCR testing equipment, PPE and the purchase of additional supplies through an additional AUD 1 million in COVID support through our Health Systems Support program.
This assistance comes on top of Australia's AUD130 million contribution to the COVAX Facility's Advance Market Commitment, of which Tonga is an eligible country. Through COVAX 48,000 vaccines have arrived in Tonga to date.
Australia congratulates the Tongan Ministry of Health on its success in avoiding community transmissions of COVID-19. It is evident, that despite this, Tonga is being impacted by the pandemic, and the vaccine is a crucial part of our collective recovery.