Some Pacific jab fares lowest in the world

Australia has been warned that a slow rollout of vaccines among its Pacific neighbors threatens their economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research from the Lowy Institute has shown that it is unlikely that some countries will reach their citizens’ basic vaccination level within five years.

While some Pacific countries have already achieved near-universal vaccination coverage, some others are among the lowest vaccination rates in the world.

“Our research reveals a divided region,” said research colleague Alexandre Dayant.

“The North Pacific has benefited from the United States’ efforts to rapidly and widely deploy vaccines, while parts of Melanesia are hampered by poor health care but, more worryingly, misinformation leading to outright vaccine resistance.”

The Melanesian countries of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea are under-performing in terms of vaccinations.

None of the three will have vaccinated more than 20 percent of their adult population by the end of this year, and current projections say Papua New Guinea will reach less than a third of the adult population by 2026.

This is in contrast to Fiji, which has reached an adult vaccination rate of 90 percent despite an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

“Fiji shows what can be done when supply is no longer a challenge,” Daayant said.

“Through tough measures, including a no-jab, no-job policy in the public service, Fiji is gearing up to reopen its economy to much-needed tourist visitors.”

International donors have guaranteed supplies to the region, with Australia delivering about two-thirds of the pledges and the bulk of supplies to date.

Additional pledges have also been made by China, the US, New Zealand and India, as well as by the international COVAX project.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 outbreak in the Northern Territory is expected to expand beyond currently closed areas after nine new cases were discovered this weekend in remote Binjari, about 320 km south of Darwin.

The Australian Defense Force has been called in to help transfer positive cases and close contacts to the National Resilience Center.

Victoria reported 1,275 new cases of coronavirus and four more deaths on Sunday.

In NSW there were 176 infections and two deaths, while in the ACT there were 16 cases.

A new case was reported in Tasmania after an 18-month-old boy from Victoria tested positive after traveling to Hobart with his mother.

Both are in a quarantine facility and the risk to the community is considered low.

Beginning Monday, visitor restrictions will be eased at all ACT hospitals, community health centers and walk-in centers to allow two visitors per patient per day during visiting hours.

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