The Australian government has donated more than 900,000 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to Laos through the Covax Facility, with the shipment arriving at Wattay International Airport on January 2.
The vaccine will be used to immunise children aged 12-17 in the hope that schools can soon reopen safely, giving further impetus to the government’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine will also be given to people aged 60 and above, as well as healthcare workers and those with underlying health conditions.
The donation is part of Australia’s contribution to ongoing global efforts to end the pandemic and support for Laos’ goal to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population by the end of 2022 with help from international organisations such as Unicef and the Covax Facility.
Vaccines are recognised to be the most important tool in the fight against the virus. As the outbreak in Laos spreads, the government is sourcing assistance from friendly countries to supplement its own resources.
The latest shipment of vaccine was received by Minister of Health Bounfeng Phommalaysith, Charge d’Affaires of the Australian Embassy Dan Heldon, and Unicef Representative to Laos Leotes Helin.
The Australian government has also previously donated 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine to Laos.
Australia is a participant in the Covax programme, which is a global initiative working for worldwide equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
“Australia has made a significant contribution to the multilateral Covax Facility, which has shipped millions of doses of vaccine to Laos. The Australian government will continue to provide Covid-19 vaccines in support of Laos’ efforts to contain the virus outbreak,” Heldon said.
Australia’s contribution will further assist the Lao government in significantly increasing the proportion of citizens that are safely vaccinated.
In May, the Australian government announced it would provide a grant of AUD15.2 million ($11.85 million) for the rollout of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines in Laos.
Australia’s vaccine support package is in addition to the AUD4.8 million ($3.74 million) of development assistance for the Covid-19 response that Australia is delivering, according to the health ministry.
VIENTIANE TIMES (LAOS)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK