While scientists have devised tools and strategies which have helped protect the Kingdom from a serious outbreak of Covid-19 – including vaccines, medication and preventive measures – Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said it is important to remain cautious as the virus has now mutated into 40 or 50 main variants.
Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said this while highlighting the ministry’s long-term vision for public health at a September 15 press conference on the ministry’s achievements over the past five years.
“This virus is adept and has mutated into 40 to 50 strains. I use the word ‘virus’ because it has bred a lot of offspring, so we must continue to beware of it,” she said.
She added that while Cambodia has learnt a lot from its successful Covid-19 defence, people need to remain on their guard.
“We do not know where the next threat to public health may come from. It is worth noting that the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over globally, with several countries still reporting illnesses and deaths, albeit in reduced numbers,” she said.
Vandine renewed her calls for people to remain vigilant, lest the virus affect public health, social activities and the Kingdom’s economy.
Ministry secretary of state York Sambath agreed that this ongoing caution was one of the hallmarks of Cambodia’s successful response to the pandemic.
“We must warn people not to relax too much. It people cease taking precautions, the virus could spread like wildfire – and with number of new strains that are evolving, treatment may prove difficult. I know people could get bored by our continual warnings, but it is crucial to public health that they continue to take care of themselves,” she said.
Vandine highlighted the latest scientific studies, saying that booster shots had been shown to be effective, noting that various vaccines had helped increase antibodies.
This was one of the reasons Cambodia had chosen to inoculate its people with a variety of vaccines, she said, adding that this was why the public were now able to live in an open society, albeit under the new normal.
“The vaccines we are using now are still valid. We have absolutely prohibited the use of expired vaccines. In point of fact, we are yet to have any of our vaccine stocks expire,” she added.
Cambodia has received about 74 million Covid-19 vaccine doses through purchases, donations, bilateral agreements and COVAX – a global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. Approximately five or six million remain in stock.
According to the health ministry, as of September 18, nearly 95 per cent of the Kingdom’s estimated population of 16 million has been vaccinated against Covid-19. More than 15 million people have received their first dose, 14 million their second, 10 million their third, four million their fourth, and just over 800,000 their fifth.