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More Covid vaccine arrives, donated by US

The United States has donated more than 799,000 doses of the Pfizer Biotech Covid-19 vaccine to Laos through the COVAX Facility, with the shipment arriving at Wattay International Airport last week.
The COVAX Facility is a partnership co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), with UNICEF as a key delivery partner.

The Pfizer vaccine will be used to immunise adolescents aged 12-17 as well as other priority groups including people aged 60 and older, people with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women.
The efficacy of the vaccine has been approved by WHO and is the first Covid-19 vaccine recommended by WHO for use in individuals aged 12 and above.
This latest shipment consists of 799,110 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and is the first of two shipments planned for delivery to Laos. The combined total of both shipments is 1,698,840 doses. The second shipment of 899,730 doses is set to arrive in the middle of this month.
This donation builds on the one million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines the United States donated to Laos in July last year.
The shipment was received by Minister of Health Dr Bounfeng Phommalaysith; US Charge d’Affaires to Laos, Ms Joy Michiko Sakurai; acting Country Representative for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr Cullen Hughes; UNICEF Representative a.i. to Laos, Ms Leotes Helin; and WHO Officer-in-Charge to Laos, Dr Yu Lee Park.
A formal handover of the two shipments between the Lao government and the United States will be organised once the second shipment has been delivered.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine provided by the United States will be provided to priority groups under the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
This contribution from the United States will support Laos’ efforts towards its goal to vaccinate 80 percent of the population by the end of 2022 and will contribute to the COVAX Facility’s mission of ensuring global equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines during the pandemic.
In addition, the United States, through USAID, UNICEF and WHO, is strengthening Laos’ capacity to safely and effectively distribute Covid-19 vaccines.
The United States has also worked closely with Laos since the pandemic began to expand Covid testing, keep health workers safe with personal protective equipment, and strengthen disease surveillance.
As of January 3, a total of 4,590,479 people in Laos, or 62.56 percent of the population, had received the first dose of a vaccine. A total of 3,643,020 people have received two doses, equal to 49.65 percent of the population, according to the Ministry of Health
Health authorities are expediting the vaccination programme as Laos strives to bring the Covid-19 outbreak under control.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update January 5, 2021)


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