Dr. Ali Khan of the World Health Organization has lauded the CNMI’s healthcare partners and community for acting collectively in the efforts against COVID-19.
During a guest appearance on a virtual news briefing on Monday, Khan, who is a medical epidemiologist and a WHO consultant, said that what he has seen “is a model public health response” focused on science.
“The community [is] working together, and there’s great evidence of that, not just in the vaccination numbers, but as I roam the streets and see all these stores and indoor places [with] everybody wearing masks. It’s really been an excellent response so far,” he said.
Khan arrived in the CNMI last week and will be providing his expertise and working closely with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
Khan noted that there is still more work to be done through vaccinations. According to the www.vaccinatecnmi.com dashboard, 94% of the CNMI’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the remaining 6% made up of individuals who have received a first dose of a COVID-19 shot and have not received a second dose yet, and unvaccinated individuals.
Getting more eligible individuals vaccinated against COVID-19, Khan said, is crucial to keeping COVID-19-related hospitalizations down and preventing COVID-19 from further disrupting people’s lives. Khan made clear that the COVID-19 virus itself “isn’t going anywhere” but that vaccinations are key to ending the pandemic. Khan assured that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and that there is ample data and research on them.
“The end of this pandemic— not the end of COVID because it’s not going to go anywhere— …is vaccinations. …Vaccines [are] safe, effective, and it’s free, and now we’ve had over eight billion doses given worldwide so we have lots of data on the safety of the vaccine,” said Khan.
Through a collaboration between CHCC and the CNMI Public School System, Khan was brought on yesterday to present to and talk with PSS stakeholders about the safety and importance of reopening schools for in-person learning.
The presentation was conducted through Zoom and was livestreamed on PSS’ Facebook page. The recording of the presentation can be found on PSS’ Facebook page as well.