‘Get vaccinated before it gets you’ plea from PNG anti-vaxxer champ

Gavi Vaccine Aliance health workers
Gavi Vaccine Alliance health workers in Papua New Guinea. Image: Gavi Alliance

PNG Post-Courier

Phyonna Silikara Gangloff is a champion Papua New Guinean squash player.

Fit and healthy, the 37-year-old mother of two lived a normal life until 14 days ago.

She was one of those who was vocal against the covid-19 vaccine and admits that she successfully convinced a lot of people in the second-largest city of Lae and family around PNG not to get vaccinated.

But this has changed.

In 14 days she has gone from a strong anti-vaccine campaigner to a vaccine advocate.

The National Control Centre was made aware of her ordeal and her campaign for PNG people to get vaccinated this week.

It was reported that she felt unwell and went for a medical check that turned her life upside down upon discovering that she was covid-19 positive.

Fighting for her life
Now fighting for her life, she released a video of her struggle.

“It’s day 14, I am still here.

“The hardest thing is I am struggling to breathe.

“Before it gets you, go get vaccinated,” the strong advocate against covid-19 said after contracting the virus.

Her appeals come as authorities step up the call for Papua New Guineans to get vaccinated against covid-19 before the disease collapses the entire health system, killing more people.

Medical doctors yesterday urged people to ignore the myths and lies surrounding the vaccines and get the shots, to not only protect their lives but also to arrest the escalating situation that is placing a huge stress on the country’s health system.

“We now have a surge in the covid-19 Delta variant in our community,” said Dr Arnold Waine, who runs his own private practice.

Hospital admissions 75pc positive
“Daily admissions to Port Moresby General Hospital average 75 percent new admissions with positive covid-19.

“Most of the admissions are those who have not got their vaccines,” he said.

Dr Waine joined other medical experts to say there was no treatment for covid-19 right now, despite few scientific advances, leaving Port Moresby General Hospital and the rest in the country with no standard treatment protocol.

They said what was being done at present throughout the country was “still in experimental stages” and individual choices of treatment and regimes were anecdotal and could not be prescribed for every patient.

“Vaccine helps stop severity and chances of admission into hospital,” Dr Waine said.

“We encourage people to get vaccinated so our hospitals are not exhausted and transmission is lower in our community.”

For a country with more than eight million people, only 61,221 people have been fully vaccinated.

These include 4085 health workers, 21,157 people above 45 years and 814 with morbidity.

These are out of the 133,741 people who have gone in for their first dose.

Three covid vaccines allowed
There were three covid-19 vaccines that were allowed by government to be used in the country –– AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinopharm.

Currently, PNG is using Sinopharm and AstraZeneca. Both are provided free of charge at the hospital entrance and the public and staff are expected to access these and get vaccinated.

A third vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, setup is coming soon.

“So we will have three sites for free vaccinations,” a medical doctor at Port Moresby General Hospital pointed out.

Most vaccines commonly used around the world exceeded expectations, with efficacy rates as high as 95 per cent, according to studies on the effectiveness of the vaccines.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation last month quoted a paper published by the US national health agency which looked at how much protection against hospital admissions the vaccines provided.

It found that 14 days after a second doze of AstraZeneca, the vaccine was on average 67 percent effective against hospital admission and death.

WHO efficacy studies
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), studies on the efficacy rate of Sinopharm after the second doses show hospitalisation was 79 percent.

WHO reported that for AstraZeneca vaccine, the efficacy rate was 63.09 per cent against symptomatic covid-19 infection and longer doses interval within 12 weeks range achieve greater efficacy.

The studies also show that covid-19 vaccines did not cause anyone to be magnetic, nor covid-19 vaccine change or interact with a person’s DNA.

“We have the vaccines but are not protecting anybody because we are not vaccinating our people.

“We have to do that to protect our people and also restore some of the freedoms that are being taken away as a result of the restrictions,” the source at Port Moresby General Hospital summed up nicely.

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