Papua New Guinea prevented the arrival of a flight carrying Chinese workers after a Chinese mining company claimed to have immunized employees against COVID-19 in an apparent vaccination trial, authorities said Friday. The Pacific nation's pandemic response controller, David Manning, banned COVID-19 vaccine testing or trials after Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd. claimed to have vaccinated 48 Chinese employees, the AP reports. Manning also said he had sent back a flight carrying 180 Chinese workers on Thursday as a precaution. "Any vaccines imported into PNG ... must go through vigorous vaccine trials, protocols and procedures" and must be pre-qualified by the World Health Organization, Manning said in a statement on Friday.
"In light of the lack of information of what these trials are and what possible risks or threat that it might cause our people if they were to come into the country, I had canceled that flight yesterday just to ensure that we continue to act in the best interests of our people and our country," Manning told reporters. The vaccine was administered to the 48 workers in China three days before they landed in Port Moresby on Aug. 13, Health Minister Jelta Wong said. "Details of the vaccine used ... are still not known,” Wong said in an email to the AP late Friday. Manning said the National Department of Health had not approved any trials. A document on company letterhead titled “Vaccination Statement” said 48 Chinese employees "have been vaccinated with SARS-COV-2 vaccine" on Aug. 10. The statement was sent to the Papua New Guinea Health Department and advised that the vaccine could cause false-positive test results in those who received it.
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