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Deal inked for locally-made jabs

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Health worker prepares Sinovac vaccines at Tonle Bassac commune in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district in June last year. Heng Chivoan

Deal inked for locally-made jabs

The government has signed an agreement with Cambodia Pharmaceutical Enterprise (CPE) and Chinese vaccine manufacturer Sinovac to purchase more than 104 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine that will be manufactured in the Kingdom from 2024 for a period of three years.

In an audio address to the nation, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that in 2022 and 2023, Cambodia will use vaccines that it currently has in stock, which are a combination of purchased doses and donations from other countries.

He said there are still 15 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine donated by China that are still to arrive, as well as more than 5.5 million doses donated by the US. Australia will also provide 500,000 doses specifically to be administered to children.

“As Covid-19 has not disappeared from the world, we have to be ready to respond to any tragedy … This is the reason the government signed an agreement to buy 104 million doses, for which CPE is cooperating with Sinovac Biotech to supply Cambodia with nearly 35 million doses per year.

“This is especially necessary for children who are getting older… and for those who need to receive booster shots,” he said.

Ahead of Hun Sen’s audio address, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing was co-signed on June 1 by the Ministry of Health, CPE and China’s Sinovac Life Sciences to produce vaccines according to Chinese standards and which meet the World Health Organisation’s emergency use listing (EUL).

Health minister Mam Bun Heng said the project is a collaboration to produce Covid-19 vaccine domestically, the local availability of which will ensure the sustainability of efforts to continue preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The health minister observed that the Cambodian people have appreciated the strength and capability of vaccines in helping the country avert large numbers of serious illness and death caused by Covid-19.

The signing ceremony was attended by Bun Heng, Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian and Choeung Sopheap, chairman of the CPE’s board of directors.

Wang lauded the “strong” support of the project by the governments of Cambodia and China.

“Cambodia and China are firm friends and we have shared our pain and joys since the outbreak of Covid-19,” he said.

According to the health ministry, as of May 31 Cambodia had vaccinated more than 94 per cent of the population. Nine million people have so far received their third dose and 2.4 million have received their fourth. The vaccination drive for fifth doses has been scheduled to begin on June 9.

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