AstraZeneca vaccine to arrive in Cambodia Tuesday

AstraZeneca vaccine to arrive in Cambodia Tuesday

A man receives the Covid-19 vaccine at the National Pediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh. (Khmer Times photo)
A man receives the Covid-19 vaccine at the National Pediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh. (Khmer Times photo)

PHONM PENH: A shipment of 324,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport on Tuesday evening, according to a joint press release published by the Ministry of Health, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech posted on his Facebook page on Sunday that he will likely be vaccinated on Thursday at Calmette Hospital, the Khmer Times reported.

On Tuesday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng will be joined by WHO representative Dr Li Ailan and Unicef representative Foroogh Foyouzat at the airport to receive the Astra Zeneca vaccines.

The doses are being provided courtesy of the Covax Facility, a global vaccine alliance aimed at providing equal access to Covid-19 vaccines to countries across the world.

Cambodia is due to receive at least 1,296,000 vaccines in total, with the rest of the vaccines arriving throughout this year, according to the Covax Facility’s latest interim distribution forecast report.

During his speech, the prime minister said this shipment of vaccines was a result of fruitful cooperation with Cambodia’s multilateral partners, including the United Nations and especially the WHO and Unicef.

To date, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are the only two countries to receive shipments of Covid-19 vaccines through the Covax Facility.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines arriving Tuesday are manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

They are one of two vaccines that have earned Emergency Use Listing (EUL) status from the WHO, along with the Pfizer vaccine.

Besides the almost 1.3 million doses due to arrive from the Covax Facility, Cambodia has been negotiating with the Indian government to purchase another five million of the same AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines.

Cambodia will now have two vaccines to offer its citizens: the Sinopharm vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine.

One of the biggest differences between the two is that those older than 59 are encouraged to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, whereas the Sinopharm vaccine is recommended for people aged 18-59.

Breastfeeding women are also able to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca “if they are part of a group prioritised for vaccination,” the WHO said in a Feb 11 press release.

Like the Sinopharm vaccine, it requires two doses to be fully effective.

To date, over 60,000 people in Cambodia have received the Sinopharm vaccine, including almost 47,000 military officials and close to 13,500 civilians.

According to the WHO, the efficacy rate for the AstraZeneca vaccine is 63.09%. Sinopharm has claimed its efficacy rate is 72.5%.

Priority groups in Cambodia have so far been identified as politicians, armed forces, journalists and health officials.

The first batch of 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China was split in half, with 300,000 being stored by the Ministry of Defence to be used on armed forces, dignitaries, senior ministers, governors, secretaries and undersecretaries of state.

The other 300,000 were given to the Ministry of Health to be used by health officials and journalists.

It is unclear at this point how the newest batch of vaccines to arrive in Cambodia will be distributed.

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