Australia earmarks $57 mln to give neighboring nations access to Covid-19 vaccines

By Phan Anh   August 26, 2020 | 11:32 pm PT
Australia earmarks $57 mln to give neighboring nations access to Covid-19 vaccines
A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine Covid-19" sticker in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. Illustration photo by Reuters/Dado Ruvic.
Australia will provide AUD80 million ($57.7 million) to a global initiative that will give a number of countries in its neighborhood, including Vietnam, improved access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Australia's contribution will help Pacific Island and Southeast Asian secure the vaccines through the Covid-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility Advanced Market Commitment (COVAX AMC).

COVAX AMC, operating under public-private global health partnership GAVI, would secure and distribute Covid-19 vaccines to all countries, not just those that could afford to buy or manufacture them, according to a media release by the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne on Wednesday.

Eligible for support are Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu in the Pacific and Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and Vietnam in Southeast Asia.

The program would address the acute phase of the pandemic, providing doses for up to 20 percent of countries’ populations in its first phase, ensuring that healthcare workers and vulnerable groups such as the elderly have access, the release said.

China said on Monday that Vietnam and other Mekong countries would receive priority once it develops a Covid-19 vaccine.

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are first in line to get it, Premier Li Keqiang told the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation leaders' meeting, according to Chinese media reports.

Earlier this month Vietnam's Ministry of Health said it has registered to buy Covid-19 vaccines from Russia and the U.K. It is also registering with other vaccine producers around the world and seeking assistance to produce its own.

Vietnamese laboratories are working hard to get a Covid-19 vaccine ready for clinical trial by the end of this year, and start production in 2021.

The country has had 1,034 Covid-19 cases so far, 370 of them active, and 30 deaths.

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