Prime Minister Hun Sen said the “sluggishness” of the establishment of a Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing facility in Cambodia was due to the government not yet signing an agreement to purchase vaccines produced by the factory.
He made the revelation on May 21 in Switzerland while meeting with more than 2,100 members of the Cambodian diaspora from different parts of Europe.
Hun Sen said the vaccine still plays an important role in protecting society, and that Cambodia must continue to inoculate its people against Covid-19. He has authorised the nationwide administration of the fifth dose, which will begin on June 9.
The premier last week ordered Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng to investigate the cause of the vaccine manufacturing delays, which continued despite the factory already having been established and licensed for that purpose.
“We received a report that the sluggishness of the production and packaging of local vaccines was because our government has not signed an agreement to purchase it, so they cannot produce it,” he said.
“Yesterday [May 19] I made the decision to sign an agreement to buy this vaccine and [open the door to] other countries buying vaccines from our country. We will also buy locally-made vaccines for our peoples’ use,” he said, adding that there was no shortage of Covid-19 jabs for Cambodians.
“The establishment of this local vaccine factory is also a precautionary move because we do not know what this contagious disease could mutate into. That’s why we are [trying to be] prepared for any possibility,” he said.
Or Vandine, health ministry spokeswoman and head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said on May 22 that getting vaccinated was the “most important and necessary” task for Cambodians to undertake, and urged them to get their shots as soon as they are eligible.
“Although the Covid-19 situation has improved, if we do not get third, fourth and fifth doses according to the timeline issued, our antibodies will decline all at once, which increases the risk of transmission or infection,” she said.
Vandine reiterated that the vaccine was still an important tool for every individual to protect themselves and their communities against Covid-19, given that the virus is constantly mutating and is still circulating globally and causing severe illness and death.
According to the health ministry, as of May 22 Cambodia had vaccinated more than 15 million people across the country. More than nine million people have so far received their third dose while more than 2 million have gotten their fourth.