As the world rushes to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 and put the brakes on the pandemic, Laos has received several offers of assistance thanks to its friendly relations with all parties.
China has said it will prioritize Mekong countries for the provision of its Covid-19 vaccine once developed, making the statement at the recent Lancang-Mekong Cooperation leaders meeting, held via video link. The country has already begun testing its vaccines, with senior health official Zheng Zhongwei from the country’s National Health Commission revealing that emergency powers have permitted the use of developmental vaccines.
Meanwhile, Russia made headlines for being the first country to register its Covid-19 vaccine, drawing praise from Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit, who sent a message of congratulation to his counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
According to local daily Vientiane Times, Russian ambassador to Laos, Vladimir A. Kalnin, spoke with Lao Minister of Health, Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, last week to discuss the possibility of provision of the Russian-made “Sputnik V” vaccine in Laos.
Trials of the vaccine are already being conducted in state-run medical institutions in Moscow, with over 20 countries hoping to purchase doses of the vaccine.
At the same time, Australia has stated on its official Embassy Facebook page, Australia in Laos, that it is proud to support fair access to Covid-19 vaccines for its neighbors in Southeast Asia, including Laos, by supporting the crucial new COVAX initiative by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Gavi is an international organization supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
Laos is a member-country of the Gavi alliance and already receives support in the form of funding, health system strengthening, and immunization programs against a number of diseases.
Gavi and the World Health Organization are co-leading COVAX, a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide with equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, once they are licensed and approved.