Cambodia does not discriminate among the different makes of Covid-19 vaccines or bring politics into its fight against the novel coronavirus, which includes jabs that originate from a variety of countries, Prime Minister Hun Sen said.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Cambodia-China Friendship Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on March 21, Hun Sen said China has recently announced it will provide 20 million more vaccine doses to Cambodia, five million of which are scheduled to arrive in late March. The premier said the government now believes that it will once again have an adequate supply of vaccines to administer to its people.

“When it comes to the war against Covid-19, we will have adequate munitions in our hands to protect our people as we strive against this dangerous disease. Cambodia is steadily approaching a level [of herd immunity] so that countries in the region and beyond would consider us one of the fastest moving nations to achieve that goal with our handling of Covid-19.

“Of course, we have not yet finished off Covid. We are not declaring victory or saying that we’ve won. We have just won the small battles, but we have not yet won the war on Covid. Winning a war and winning a battle mean different things. We’ve beat Delta or Alpha in battle, but we have not yet won the Covid war,” he explained.

He noted that five million vaccine doses will be shipped from China later this month, while one million doses will come from Italy and another million from Poland – adding to the 6.5 million vaccines currently remaining in the national stockpile.

“Please do not say that Hun Sen discriminates. I don’t. When vaccines are available, we take all that are offered to us,” he said.

The premier also noted that the Pfizer vaccines donated to Cambodia by ASEAN were initially going to be passed along to Myanmar, but were held back because those jabs require extreme-cold refrigeration – which Myanmar cannot currently provide.

Regarding the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination campaign, he requested that the national Covid-19 vaccination committee prepare a rolling plan that would allow children close to three years in age or perhaps two years and 10 months old to get vaccinated in order to boost herd immunity.

According to the Ministry of Health, as of March 20 over 14.7 million people – or 92.40 per cent of the Kingdom’s estimated population – are now vaccinated against Covid-19. More than 7.7 million people have so far received a third dose while more than one million have received a fourth.

Hun Sen also urged Cambodian medical staff to cooperate and capitalise on the development of traditional Chinese medicines as China has sent a team of specialists to provide training to them.

“These doctors have now arrived in Cambodia, so we must cooperate with them and possibly they can transfer to us this medical technology. And in terms of the production of vaccines, we must continue to focus on helping with speeding along the work of the Chinese in setting up a vaccine factory in Cambodia,” he said.

The team of specialist doctors arrived in Cambodia on March 16. According to the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh, there are 12 doctors in total who were chosen by the Chinese Academy of Traditional Medical Science.

They are the first team to be sent abroad to fight against Covid-19 and the group includes experts on pneumonia, cardiovascular issues and acupuncture.

During their mission to Cambodia, they will diagnose and treat patients while also training Cambodian medical staff on how to use traditional Chinese medicines to curb the virus. They are expected to be providing assistance at the Cambodia-China Friendship Preah Kossamak Hospital for the next 60 days, per the agreement reached by the two governments.