The arrival of the first shipment of the Covid-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility marked an important step forward for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Laos, reports Laotian Times.
The 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine received on Saturday (March 20) contribute to the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for the Covid-19 vaccines together with other vaccines received through bilateral cooperation.
The Government of Lao PDR has actively been planning the Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
This batch of the Astra Zeneca vaccine is part of the total 480,000 doses which Lao PDR is expected to receive from the COVAX this year to cover about 20 percent of the total population.
The vaccines were procured by UNICEF and will be administered by the Government with the technical support of WHO. So far, the country has received bilateral vaccine donations from neighboring China and from the Russian Federation and began its first vaccination roll-out on 27 January 2021.
As additional vaccines become approved and listed for emergency use by WHO, it is anticipated that such vaccines, if offered by producing countries, can also come under the COVAX Facility and enlarge the initiative aimed at providing equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Sara Sekkenes, UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR, said: “With appreciation for the work of WHO and UNICEF together with a number of additional actors and financial contributors, I would like to commend the Lao Government for its achievements in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and its efforts in working for the vaccination of its population.
“The UN Country Team stands ready to provide its technical assistance including supporting resource mobilisation and trust-building in and demand for vaccines that meet the highest international standards for the implementation of the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination programme to ensure its safety, efficacy and equity, included therein also the Astra Zeneca vaccine which continues to be regarded by WHO as a safe and effective vaccine.”
According to the Lao Government, the priority group in line for vaccinations are frontline medical staff, officials working at land border crossings and airports, other essential workers, elderly people above the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions.