The Ministry of Health along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF announced on February 28 that 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India (SII) – known as COVISHIELD – will arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2, according to a press release from the ministry.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also declared that – barring any changes to the situation or unforeseen circumstances – he will be vaccinated against Covid-19 on the morning of March 4.
Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine was quoted in the press release as saying that Minister of Health Mam Bunheng will represent the government at a hand-over ceremony held at the airport when the vaccines arrive.
She also states that the ceremony will be attended by WHO representative to Cambodia Dr Li Ailan and UNICEF’s Cambodia Representative Foroogh Foyouzat. Other senior officials from the health ministry, WHO and UNICEF will also be in attendance.
“The doses arriving [on March 4] are the first shipment provided to Cambodia by COVAX. Further batches will arrive throughout 2021,” the press release states.
The press release also noted that COVAX is an unprecedented global effort to provide every country in the world with equitable access to safe Covid-19 vaccines as rapidly as possible.
The COVAX initiative is led by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations along with the WHO in partnership with UNICEF.
“Cambodia is among the first countries in the western Pacific region to receive vaccines from COVAX,” the press release said.
Vandine stated that March 2 at 7:50pm is the estimated time of arrival for the flight carrying the vaccines shipment. Covid-19 prevention measures such as social distancing and mask wearing will be strictly observed at the handover ceremony.
In a post on Facebook, Hun Sen wrote that the health ministry had informed him that a flight carrying 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive on March 4 and that an eventual total of 1,104,000 doses will be provided to Cambodia in the first half of this year through COVAX.
“These are the fruits of international cooperation between Cambodia and multiple other partners, including the UN, specifically the WHO and UNICEF.
“As planned, COVAX will provide us with 20 per cent of the vaccines necessary for our population of 16 million. That number amounts to vaccines for 3.2 million people or 6.4 million doses,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen also gave his thanks on behalf of Cambodia to various countries, businesses and donors across the world for providing aid to the Kingdom through COVAX.
“Furthermore, I would like to inform everyone that – barring any unforeseen circumstances – I will be vaccinated at 8:30am, March 4, 2021 at Calmette Hospital. I will also hold a press conference at that time,” he said.