Cambodia has relied on China to procure enough vaccines for the targeted 10 million people aged 18 and over and is now considering vaccinations for those under 18.
In a special address today, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia may vaccinate people under 18 when vaccinations for the targeted 10 million is completed.
He said Cambodia had also sought to procure vaccines from other sources but now opted to depend on jab supplies from China as they are readily available.
“As per plan, we will have a total of more than 29.7 million doses, including seven million expected from [World Health Organisation-led] Covax and three million from Australia.
“But for the 10 million shots expected from Covax and Australia, we have set them aside as backup in our strategic vaccination plan,” he said.
The prime minister said he had made the right decision and would welcome any criticism of the plan.
Hun Sen noted that Cambodia will receive a total of five million doses from two Chinese pharmaceutical companies this month – two million from Sinopharm and three million from Sinovac.
Hun Sen previously remarked that without the friendship of China, not even 200,000 people could have been vaccinated – never mind four million – because Cambodia has received only 324,000 doses of vaccines total under the Covax scheme.
“At the Future of Asia conference, I was asked why I had turned [diplomatically] towards China. I said – if I do not rely on China, whom do I rely on? Tell me. It’s just the truth. Many people promised me much – but in the end, promises are not vaccines – and it was only the Chinese vaccines that actually arrived,” he said.
He also said certain countries required him to deposit money in advance, but without stipulating when those vaccines would actually arrive and he refused to do it because it was millions of dollars.
Regarding unvaccinated people, Hun Sen said he did not force them or pressure people to get vaccinated because everyone had learned about vaccinations and it moved ahead faster than planned without having to arrest anyone like in some countries.
Hun Sen said one principle he would adhere to for unvaccinated people who have been the victims of incitements or propaganda that had tricked them was that they would need to do get vaccinated by 2023.
As of June 30, Cambodia had vaccinated more than 4.2 million people, or about 42 per cent of the targeted 10 million.