Doctor Glen Mola has raised concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine standoff with Europe – saying Papua New Guinea’s dire COVID-19 situation will escalate to encompass the whole country if an inoculation program is not rolled out soon. Australia has pledged to send 8,000 doses of the vaccine to PNG to assist with the virus outbreak, however, the nation’s overseas supply could be at risk by the European Union’s threat to block vaccine distribution by seizing factories. “We’re absolutely desperate, for heavens’ sake. We need the vaccine as soon as possible to save our country from an epidemic that would just sweep right through,” Dr Mola told Sky News. “Once it gets into rural areas then there will be mini epidemics in every village across the country and that’s where all the old people are … in the villages so that’s when people will really start dying in large numbers.” The Port Moresby Hospital doctor pointed out, however, 50 per cent of PNG’s population is under the age of 18, meaning the nation’s morbidity rate had a good chance of being significantly lower despite the high infection rate.