According to a new study by an Australian think tank, according to a new study by an Australian think tank that predicts it will take years for some Pacific countries to vaccinate their populations, Papua New Guinea will only vaccinate a third of its adult population by 2026 if it continues at current rates.
A study by the Lowy Institute using simulations based on current vaccination rates and factors such as demographics, vaccine acceptance rates, and health sector potential showed that while some Pacific countries lead the world in vaccination rates, others lag far behind.
“The Pacific is divided when it comes to vaccinations,” said Alexander Diant, study author and researcher at the Lowy Institute, warning that low vaccination rates in some countries increase the risk of new options emerging.
Palau has provided 99 percent of residents with at least one dose of the vaccine. According to the model, Tonga and Samoa intend to vaccinate adults by the end of the year.
However, Solomon Islands is not expected to fully vaccinate adults until April 2026, while it is estimated that 86 percent of the adult population will be able to vaccinate Vanuatu by that time. And Papua New Guinea, the slowest in the region, will only have about 16 percent of its population vaccinated by December 2022.
These countries are thwarted by overburdened health systems and rampant misinformation about vaccines, Mr Dayant said.
Facebook is often the main source of information for people, and unfounded Western conspiracy theories to inoculate people with microchips and black magic are circulating on social media, he said, adding: “Disinformation is spreading much faster than the virus in the Pacific.”
He said rich countries can do more, such as strengthening local health systems. “It is in the interest of the whole world to vaccinate developing countries,” he said.