Dili, March 19th, 2021 – His Excellency the Prime-Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, welcomed, this Friday, in his office, the Minister of Health, Odete Maria Freitas Belo, for an update of the information on the progress of the vaccination program against COVID-19, already approved by the Government, in which the AstraZeneca vaccine will be used, according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Minister of Health explained that, at this moment, the Ministry is carrying out the socialization process on the AstraZeneca vaccine, and has already started the training of health professionals to apply the vaccines. The storage space is also ready, waiting only for the arrival of the vaccines.
“The socialization is taking place right now. The health promotion team already gave presentations to hospitals, and has already started the process of training health professionals who are going to apply the vaccines to the population”, said the Minister of Health after this weekly meeting.
The Minister of Health also added that in the first week after March 22nd, if all goes accordingly, Timor-Leste may already have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, because UNICEF has already managed to arrange a specific plane to transport this vaccine to Timor-Leste because this vaccine needs to be transported at low temperatures.
Prime-Minister Taur Matan Ruak stated that, while the World Health Organization (WHO), as adviser of the Timor-Leste Government, does not claim that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not good, the Government keeps its intention to use it.
“We have a great advisor, internationally recognized, that is the World Health Organization (WHO). As long as WHO does not claim that this vaccine is bad, we will continue with the AstraZeneca vaccine”, said the Head of Government, recently, in response to internal concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine.
On March 15th, 2021, the Council of Ministers approved a Government Resolution on the National Vaccination Plan against COVID-19, using the AstraZeneca vaccine, following WHO’s recommendation, because they consider it safe and effective, and because this vaccine is the most appropriate to the context of Timor-Leste, taking into account the necessary conditions for storage and refrigeration, between two to eight degrees.
Timor-Leste has joined the “COVAX Facility” mechanism and, through it, will have free access to the AstraZeneca vaccine for about 20% of its population. As for the acquisition and application of the vaccine for the remaining 80% of the population, it is still in process of governmental discussion, together with the main development partners, following the resources mobilization, acquisition, and the provision of services. The first parcel of vaccines is expected to arrive in the country at the beginning of the second quarter of this year 2021.END/M-PMO