United States Hands Over More than One Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines Donated Through the COVAX Facility to Lao PDR
This latest shipment consisting of 1,008,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Vientiane – Wattay International Airport on Friday, 16 July.
Vientiane, 19 July 2021 - Today, U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR, Dr. Peter M. Haymond, handed over more than a million doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine donated by the United States through the COVAX Facility and delivered by UNICEF to the Government of Lao PDR in an official ceremony at the Wattay International Airport chaired by H.E. Ms. Pany Yathotou, Vice President of Lao PDR.
H.E. Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, Dr. Gao Jun, WHO Officer-in-Charge to Lao PDR, and Ms. Beate Dastel, UNICEF Representative a.i. to Lao PDR, as well as other partners also attend the handover ceremony.
This latest shipment of vaccines is part of the United States’ contribution to the ongoing global efforts to end the pandemic, and support for Lao PDR’s goal to vaccinate 50 percent of its population by the end of 2021.
“The Government of Lao PDR highly values the continued efforts of the Government of the United States of America and the American people in assisting the Government and the Lao people. This assistance, in the form of COVID-19 donated doses, is a clear indication of the good cooperation between our two countries, the Lao PDR and the United States of America, under the comprehensive partnership. I am confident that the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines will accelerate the efforts to reach 50 percent of the population in 2021,” remarked H.E. Ms. Pany Yathotou, Vice President of Lao PDR.
With this donation of 1,008,000 doses, which is a direct contribution from the American people to the Lao PDR, the Lao Government will be able to provide protection against the virus to more than one million people, out of the country’s approximately 7 million total population.
The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine differs from other types of COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Lao PDR as it only requires a single dose. In addition, the J&J/Janssen vaccine can be stored at regular refrigeration temperatures, which makes it ideally suited for immunizing populations in rural or hard-to-reach areas.
“I am proud to represent the United States Government in providing these lifesaving vaccines to the people of the Lao PDR,” remarked H.E. Dr. Peter M. Haymond, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Lao PDR. “Today’s donation will ensure that more than one million additional Lao people – approximately 14 percent of the Lao PDR population – will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This brings the Lao PDR closer to its goal of vaccinating 50 percent of its population by the end of 2021, and brings the world closer to ending this pandemic,” he added.
The Lao PDR Government will use these J&J/Janssen doses to first vaccinate priority groups, including people above 60 years of age, people with underlying health conditions, and health workers across the country, in line with the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan and further plan for its use to other target population, including those in remote and hard to reach areas.
“Ensuring equitable access to vaccines and vaccinating the world’s most vulnerable has been the key priorities for WHO. The United States’ support is very timely as it comes at a time when the country needs it most and will help bring the vaccines to those most in need in hard-to-reach areas,” said Dr. Gao Jun, WHO Officer-in-Charge to Lao PDR.
"Vaccines save lives as progress in childhood immunization over the last decades has shown. Thus, it brings me joy to see the steady progress we are collectively making towards vaccinating the Lao population. I would like to thank the United States of America, particularly the U.S. Embassy in Lao PDR and USAID, for their generous contribution. Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines represents the clearest pathway out of this pandemic for all of us, children included. As the virus mutates producing new variants, the need to join hands to defeat it is even greater. Donating doses now is a smart policy that speaks to our collective best interests,” stated Ms. Beate Dastel, UNICEF Representative a.i. to Lao PDR.
In addition to this latest shipment of the J&J/Janssen vaccines, Lao PDR previously received a shipment of 132,000 doses of Astra Zeneca / Oxford COVID-19 vaccines in March 2021 and also a shipment of 100,620 doses of Pfizer BioNTech vaccines in early June 2021, both of which were procured through the COVAX Facility.
COVAX is a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as key delivery partner. COVAX works in partnership with the World Bank, civil society organizations, 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, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Notes to Editors
List of donor pledges to the Gavi COVAX AMC is available here.
Interactive funding tracker for the ACT Accelerator, which includes details of funding for COVAX, can be found here.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.
CEPI is focused on the COVAX vaccine research and development portfolio: investing in R&D across a variety of promising candidates, with the goal to support development of three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. As part of this work, CEPI has secured first right of refusal to potentially over one billion doses for the COVAX Facility to a number of candidates, and made strategic investments in vaccine manufacturing, which includes reserving capacity to manufacture doses of COVAX vaccines at a network of facilities, and securing glass vials to hold 2 billion doses of vaccine. CEPI is also investing in the ‘next generation’ of vaccine candidates, which will give the world additional options to control COVID-19 in the future.
Gavi is focused on procurement and delivery for COVAX: coordinating the design, implementation and administration of the COVAX Facility and the Gavi COVAX AMC and working with its Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO, along with governments, on country readiness and delivery. The COVAX Facility is the global pooled procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX will ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all 190 participating economies, using an allocation framework formulated by WHO. The COVAX Facility will do this by pooling buying power from participating economies and providing volume guarantees across a range of promising vaccine candidates. The Gavi COVAX AMC is the financing mechanism that will support the participation of 92 low- and middle-income countries in the Facility, enabling access to donor-funded doses of safe and effective vaccines. Gavi is fundraising for the COVAX AMC, and funding UNICEF procurement of vaccines as well as partners’ and governments work on readiness and delivery, including support cold chain equipment, technical assistance, syringes, vehicles, and other aspects of the vastly complex logistical operation for delivery. UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) will be acting as procurement coordinators for the COVAX Facility, helping deliver vaccines to COVAX AMC participants and others.
WHO has multiple roles within COVAX: It provides normative guidance on vaccine policy, regulation, safety, R&D, allocation, and country readiness and delivery. Its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization develops evidence-based immunization policy recommendations. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL)/prequalification programmes ensure harmonized review and authorization across member states. It provides global coordination and member state support on vaccine safety monitoring. It developed the target product profiles for COVID-19 vaccines and provides R&D technical coordination. WHO leads, along with UNICEF, the support to countries as they prepare to receive and administer vaccines. The Country Readiness and Delivery (CRD) workstream includes Gavi and numerous other partners working at the global, regional, and country-level to provide tools, guidance, monitoring, and on the ground technical assistance for the planning and roll-out of the vaccines. Along with COVAX partners, WHO is also developing a no-fault compensation scheme as part of the time-limited indemnification and liability commitments.
UNICEF is leveraging its experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world and working with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage. UNICEF already procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. In collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines for COVAX. In addition, UNICEF, Gavi and WHO are working with governments around the clock to ensure that countries are ready to receive the vaccines, with appropriate cold chain equipment in place and health workers trained to dispense them. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines, delivering vaccine confidence communications and tracking and addressing misinformation around the world.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has moved with great urgency and in coordination with WHO in response to the emergence of COVID-19. CEPI has initiated 11 partnerships to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus. The programmes are leveraging rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI as well as new partnerships.
Before the emergence of COVID-19, CEPI’s priority diseases included Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever and Chikungunya virus. CEPI also invested in platform technologies that can be used for rapid vaccine and immunoprophylactic development against unknown pathogens (Disease X).
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 822 million children – and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation and reaching the unvaccinated children still being left behind, employing innovative finance and the latest technology – from drones to biometrics – to save millions more lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organizations that fund Gavi’s work here.
The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.
For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube
About the United States
The United States is the largest contributor to the COVAX Facility. It has already provided $2 billion to COVAX and committed an additional $2 billion. The U.S. has been among the first countries to provide COVID-19 support to Lao PDR. To date, the U.S., through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has contributed nearly USD 8 million to help Lao PDR control the spread of COVID-19 by providing much needed-medical and laboratory equipment, training thousands of health workers, and vaccination efforts. The United States is also the largest contributor to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
In addition to the COVID-19 emergency assistance, the U.S. has also worked in close partnership with Government and people of the Lao PDR on a range of programs to improve health outcomes in the country over the past 20 years, including long-term initiatives to improve nutrition through school feeding, programs to address maternal and child health, assistance for persons with disabilities and efforts to address and prevent infectious diseases. For more information, visit https://la.usembassy.gov/, and follow the U.S. Embassy Vientiane on Facebook.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.