Some 523,200 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine procured by the COVAX Facility – a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) were handed over to the Government of the Lao PDR in an official ceremony held in Vientiane on Tuesday.
The new doses of COVID-19 vaccine will help the Lao PDR achieve its 2021 goal of 50 per cent vaccination coverage.
Deputy Prime Minister Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune received the aid package from WHO Officer-in-Charge to the Lao PDR Jun Gao in the presence of Deputy Minister of Health Sanong Thongsana, UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR Pia Rebello Britto and representatives of key development partners.
“The Government of the Lao PDR greatly appreciates the support of the COVAX Facility in procuring these life-saving vaccines for the people of the Lao PDR, beginning with the first shipment of doses supported by the COVAX Facility in early 2021 up until now, and we commend their commitment to ensuring global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. This new shipment of vaccines will accelerate the efforts to reach 50 per cent of the population in 2021,” said Deputy Prime Minister Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune.
The vaccines will be primarily used for those who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 but have not received all recommended doses yet.
The priority groups include frontline workers including healthcare workers, elderly aged 60 years or above, people with underlying health conditions, pregnant people, and essential workers including school teachers and staff across the country in line with the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
“This is another very important moment in the Lao PDR’s COVID-19 response efforts. We are now close to our vaccination target for the end of this year and this new shipment is a great contribution from the COVAX Facility to help us achieve this goal and will enable us to further control community transmission in the Lao PDR. This vaccine is safe and effective in preventing severe disease and death, including against the delta variant,” said WHO Officer-in-Charge to the Lao PDR Jun Gao.
As of Nov 3, more than 6.5 million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with 3.3 million people given first doses of Covid-19 vaccine and 2.8 million people administered with second doses.
“UNICEF is proud to be part of the COVAX Facility and to support the COVID-19 response in the Lao PDR. We will continue working with our partners to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in the country, playing a leading role in supplying COVID-19 vaccines to the Lao PDR and contributing to strengthening the country’s capacity to handle the pandemic. We are particularly grateful to our partners for their contributions to Gavi and COVAX which are helping to vaccinate the Lao population. We all have to continue working together in solidarity as nobody is safe until everyone is safe,” stated UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR Pia Rebello Britto.
Gavi board members represented in the Lao PDR include Australia, Canada, the European Commission, France, Germany, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and CEPI, working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organizations, manufacturers, and others. COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
The AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in the Republic of Korea by SK Bioscience Co. Ltd (SK Bio) has been authorised for emergency use by WHO and the Food & Drug Department, Ministry of Health.
Source: Lao News Agency