Australia promises $363-mln backing for Covid vaccine access in Southeast Asia, Pacific

By Minh Nga   November 7, 2020 | 02:30 am PT
Australia promises $363-mln backing for Covid vaccine access in Southeast Asia, Pacific
A scientist works in a laboratory to produce Covid-19 vaccine for Vietnam in the central province of Khanh Hoa, August 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Thai.
Australia has pledged AUD500 million ($363 million) to help Pacific and Southeast Asian countries get better access to Covid-19 vaccines.

To be provided over three years, and on top of the AUD23.2 million it committed earlier, the initiative, besides helping supply safe and effective vaccine doses, will offer a range of technical support like assisting with assessment of vaccine safety, efficacy and quality by national regulatory authorities.

"A fast, safe vaccine rollout in the Pacific and Southeast Asia will mean we are able to return to more normal travel, tourism and trade with our key partners in the region," a statement issued on Friday by the Australian embassy in Vietnam said.

"We are securing access to Covid-19 vaccines for Australia, the Pacific and Southeast Asia through a range of advance purchase agreements with manufacturers and through participation in the multilateral COVAX Facility."

COVAX Facility is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure Covid-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live.

According to WHO, 64 "higher income economies" have joined it so far.

Vietnamese health authorities announced this week that the country’s first Covid-19 vaccine, produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, could enter human trials as early as this month.

There are three more under research by Vabiotech, Polyvac and the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals.

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