Prime Minister Hun Sen has given his approval to place an order for an extra five million doses of Sinovac vaccines as part of a drive to acquire 26 million doses for the country’s 13 million people, according to Ministry of Health secretary of state York Sambath.

The approval comes as 500,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of May 11, with an additional 500,000 doses slated to arrive on May 16 and another one million on May 23, Sambath said.

Speaking during a handover ceremony of the 500,000 doses at Phnom Penh International Airport on May 11, she said: “Based on an urgent decision by Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] yesterday [May 10], we will place more purchasing orders with the biopharmaceutical company Sinovac for another five million doses.

“In our procurement plan we will have up to 26 million doses, enough to inoculate 13 million people,” she said, without specifying when the next five million doses would arrive.

“Cambodia will have enough vaccines to inoculate everyone in the red zones and high-risk areas, especially in Phnom Penh and Kandal province. We will procure enough vaccines to immunise our citizens no matter which areas they are living in. Samdech [Hun Sen] has stated that all citizens will get the vaccine,” she said.

Sambath appealed to the public not to flock to get the jabs in large numbers and risk contracting Covid-19 instead of being immunised.

The health ministry will provide an extra 500,000 doses to the vaccination teams for the red zone campaign in Phnom Penh. If that is not enough, then it will provide whatever amount of vaccines necessary because Cambodia will have enough vaccines for at least 13 million people across the country as planned, Sambath said.

Concerning the WHO’s approval of the Sinopharm vaccine, she said this was good news for people in Cambodia and the world alike, and confirmed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s judgment in approving it for emergency use in Cambodia earlier, she said.

Cambodia has already received 1.7 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China. The vaccine is effective just like all of the other vaccines that are in widespread use globally, she said.

“In our procurement plan we have also placed an order of four million doses of Sinopharm vaccines. We hope that the company will have the ability to provide vaccines in this amount to the Cambodian people,” she said.

In his Facebook page on May 11, Hun Sen that Covid-19 vaccines are key to the battle against Covid-19 as it is the best way to prevent it spreading. The government, he said, implemented this vaccination strategy as quickly as possible to begin administering them to protect its people.

He said Cambodia will seek out other vaccines to administer to its citizenry to immunise them against the virus and stop its spread.

As of May 10, Cambodia had vaccinated 1,825,488 people, according to the health ministry.