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PM asks UK for more jab help as 415K shots arrive

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Prime Minister Hun Sen (right) and UK deputy ambassador to Cambodia Marc Thayre bump elbows at the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine handover ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport on Thursday. Heng Chivoan

PM asks UK for more jab help as 415K shots arrive

Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested additional Covid-19 vaccines-related assistance from the UK as 415,000 doses of its AstraZeneca jabs touched down in Phnom Penh on August 5.

“I also request that the UK provide more vaccines and help facilitate Cambodia’s purchase of more AstraZeneca vaccines for future use,” he said.

The UK donated the vaccines through a bilateral agreement.

Hun Sen reiterated that these vaccines will be used as booster doses for Cambodian people who have already been vaccinated with the China-produced Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.

“I thank again the UK people and the government for donating 415,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to the people and the Royal Government of Cambodia. I wish the people of both countries success in all endeavors, prosperity and progress,” he said.

UK deputy ambassador to Cambodia Marc Thayre said the donation will support Cambodia in its vaccination drive allowing businesses to reopen, children to access education and livelihoods to be restored.

He said the UK government had funded the research, development and manufacture of the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on the basis that it would be distributed across the world.

At the Group of Seven (G7) summit in June, the UK committed to sharing 100 million vaccine doses. This bilateral donation to Cambodia was the start of their fulfillment of that commitment, though only 20 per cent of the 100 million doses will be donated via bilateral agreements, while the other 80 per cent will go through the World Health Organisation-led Covax Facility.

“I applaud the Royal Government of Cambodia for your rollout of vaccines and support to those most in need in Cambodia. I particularly wish to share the British embassy’s appreciation to all the health care workers around Cambodia from Pailin to Ratanakkiri to Phnom Penh, as they have been dedicating their lives to keep us all safe,” Thayre said.

He emphasised the necessity of global cooperation during this pandemic which has so far claimed over 3.7 million lives globally.

“Our collective task now is to rebuild our resilience. The UK is focusing on three areas to build back better – healthcare, education and climate change,” he said.

According to Thayre, the UK has partnered with ASEAN to support ASEAN’s Covid-19 Response Fund. The UK has also committed to supporting one billion children around the world, including in Cambodia, over the next five years.

Another $16 billion will be committed by the UK to double its climate finance contribution over the next five years to support many countries, including Cambodia.

During the reception for the vaccine arrival, Prime Minister Hun Sen also reiterated his call for parents to bring their children to get vaccinated. He said no Cambodian should miss their opportunity to be vaccinated when their time comes, after the government launched vaccinations for children aged 12-17 on August 1.

“I also call on every Cambodian people to join hands … to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by implementing and adhering to health measures, especially the three preventions and three donts and to participate in the vaccination campaign for the safety and health of their family, community and society as a whole.

As of August 4, Cambodia had reached over 75 per cent of its goal of 10 million people aged 18 and over vaccinated. For the 12-17 age group of nearly two million, vaccinations have now reached 8.29 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health.

If compared to the whole of Cambodia’s population of 16 million, vaccinations have reached over 48 per cent, the ministry said.

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Royal Phnom Penh Hospital on Russian Federation Blvd in Sen Sok district on August 5. Heng Chivoan

Separately, the privately-run Royal Phnom Penh Hospital has received approval in principal from the government to import the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and administer them at the hospital.

“Our team is working on this, and we are not sure what brand of vaccine we will acquire. And we don’t know how much it costs,” said Sokkhom Yonn, head of the hospital’s marketing department.

“The team is in the process of looking at the possibility of buying the vaccines including their transportation and storage, import taxes and other things,” he said.

He noted that his hospital decided to import the vaccines in order to join with the government in the vaccination effort, not to make a profit.

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