The United States Government has handed over 201,600 doses of pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to the Government of Lao PDR through the COVAX facility to support the country’s efforts to vaccinate children aged 5-11 against COVID-19.
This is COVAX’s latest effort to close the vaccine equity gap globally and contribute to countries’ economic and social recovery from the pandemic.
Speaking at the handover ceremony in Vientiane today, Dr. Sanong Thongsana, Vice Minister of Health, thanked Dr. Peter M. Haymond, United States Ambassador to the Lao PDR, for the contribution and highlighted the strong diplomatic relations between the two countries. “The arrival of these vaccines from the United States Government underscores the broadening bilateral relations between the Lao PDR and the United States across a range of areas, including public health during the COVID-19 pandemic,” remarked the Vice Minister.
Ambassador Haymond congratulated the Lao PDR on its success in the fight against COVID-19. “The United States Government is proud to support the Government of Lao PDR with this latest contribution of vaccines, which will help keep school children safe so that they can continue to learn without further disruptions during the new school year,” said Ambassador Haymond. “The United States stands alongside the Lao PDR in this important fight and is here to assist Lao PDR to build back better.”
In addition to supporting the Government of the Lao PDR with more than 2.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the United States Government, through USAID, the U.S. Centers Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Defense, UNICEF, and WHO, has been working to strengthen the Lao PDR’s capacity to distribute these vaccines, ensure the safety of health workers by providing personal protective equipment, strengthen disease surveillance in the country, and providing equipment to improve immunization registration and safe vaccine delivery.
Dr. Ying-Ru Lo, WHO Representative to the Lao PDR, and Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR, also attended the ceremony.
“The public health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the lives of families in Lao PDR and the rest of the world. Vaccines remain crucial in addressing these impacts, and will save lives, especially among those most at-risk,” said Dr. Ying-Ru Lo.
All vaccines in use in the Lao PDR have been approved by the World Health Organization and Ministry of Health, and are proven safe and effective in protecting people from severe illness due to COVID-19.
“Vaccinating children aged 5 and above is our latest collective effort as COVAX supports equitable, full vaccination of all people in the Lao PDR, this time with a focus on the younger generations. It is an important step toward preventing the interruption of in-class learning and overcoming the learning losses children have experienced during the pandemic. This donation represents a strong step in vaccine equity, especially for children and adolescents,” explained Dr. Pia Rebello Britto.
COVAX is a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as the key delivery partner. COVAX works in partnership with 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.
Several COVAX partners have been instrumental in promoting COVID-19 vaccine equity in the Lao PDR, including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Source: Lao News Agency