Latest updates on COVID-19 vaccines in Lao PDR
Lao PDR is making rapid advances towards vaccinating the population against COVID-19.
The vaccines that will be used in Lao PDR have gone through a rigorous development and safety testing procedures, where the Ministry of Health – Food and Drug Department has assessed the evidence, benefits and risks. The AstraZeneca vaccine licensed to Serum Institute of India provided through the COVAX was authorised for emergency use by the Ministry of Health on 22 February, after being listed for emergency use by WHO on 15 February.
According the country’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NVDP), this initial batch of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines will be used by the Government of Lao PDR to first immunise priority groups in the country who are at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 and those who are most likely to develop severe symptoms from infection. This includes frontline healthcare workers, older adults above the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions. Some essential workers will also be prioritised based on the nature of the job and high-risk of exposure to COVID-19 such as workers at points of entry and in quarantine centres.
The arrival of the vaccines in Lao PDR marks a key milestone for the COVAX facility in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers, and others. COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
GAVI board members represented in Lao PDR include Australia, Canada, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Multilateral agencies like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank supported the country in COVID-19 response in general and specifically the preparedness for the vaccination roll-out.