A look at the vaccine situation across ASEAN

The following is a brief look at what other ASEAN countries outside of Thailand are doing to secure Covid-19 vaccines.

Nine out of the ten ASEAN members are waiting to secure covid vaccines from the World Health Organization (WHO)’s COVAX Facility.

The WHO announced last week that first lot of their vaccines will be provided to the low-income and hard-to-reach countries in late January and mid-February.

COVAX serves to support the research, development, and manufacturing of a wide range of covid vaccine candidates, as well as in negotiating their pricing to help reach all populations across the globe — namely lower-income and hard-to-reach countries.

The initiative, which was founded in 2020, is expected to provide more than two billion doses of the covid vaccine and aims to reach at least 20 per cent of the population.

COVAX also aims to ensure that at least 92 low- and middle-income countries, most of which are in Africa and South Asia, will have safe and effective access Covid vaccines by 2021, regardless of cost or circumstances.

The majority of the Asean members are also buying vaccines from UK’s AstraZeneca-Oxford, Germany-US’s Pfizer-BioNTech and China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm. Some are also acquiring Russia’s Sputnik V and Gamaleya and the Serum Institute of India’s Covovax.

Thailand and Vietnam are also producing their own vaccine. More details on the vaccination plan of each country can be find below:

Brunei Darussalam: Population – 440,000

The country has reported 174 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 153 people have recovered from the infection with a death toll of three people.

The oil-rich country has strict rules on quarantining anyone who enters its borders. Its health minister said on 8 January that the country had already signed an agreement to secure vaccines from the COVAX Facility of the WHO for 50 per cent of the population.

He said the country is also buying AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for 5 per cent of the population and they are negotiating with other manufacturers. 

The country is looking to inoculate 70 to 80 per cent of its population, he added.

Cambodia: Population – 16.8 million 

The country has reported 398 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 376 people have recovered from the infection with no related deaths recorded.

Hun Sen, Cambodia’s prime minister, said in December that he will not allow his country to become a “dustbin” for a vaccine trial conducted by any country or company unless it is approved by the WHO. Only Pfizer-BioNTech had been approved by the organization so far.

He also said that the country will first acquire one million doses from the WHO’s COVAX initiative. The plan is to spend around US$250 million to buy the vaccine and inoculate 13 million people for free. the government expects the first batch of vaccines to arrive by midyear, he added.

However, because it is largely depending on COVAX, which only guarantees vaccinations for a fifth of a country’s population, and with limited resources to buy for themselves, observers in and outside the country believe that Cambodia will receive a small amount of vaccine this year.

The Economist Intelligence Unit expects vaccines to be widely available in the country only around April 2022.

Indonesia: Population – 275 million

The country has reported a total of 846,765 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 695,807 people have recovered from the infection with a death toll of 24,645.

Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s president, became the first person in the country be vaccinated by the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine on Wednesday. The country’s Islamic body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, had last week ruled that the vaccine is halal.

Indonesia participated in the third phase of the clinical trials for the vaccine and the country’s food and drug agency has approved the vaccine based on the data that it is 65 per cent effective, above the WHO’s threshold of 50 per cent.

The country is now ordered 18 million doses of Sinovac vaccine, also known as CoronaVac, and they are securing another 50 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford.

The country’s health ministry said they are plaining to inoculate 1.3 medical workers and 17.4 million public workers between January and April. Next is the general public, with the first group being working people aged 18 to 59.

The strategy is different from the plan in many other countries. The health ministry argued that they want to immunize working people first because they are out and about and are more likely to spread the virus then elderly people who mostly stay at home.

Laos: Population – 7.3 million

The country has reported 41 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 40 people have recovered from the infection with no related deaths recorded.

Laos received 2,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine in November. Its health ministry said last week that none of the 200 volunteers have shown side effects.

The next step is to inoculate frontline medical workers. The country also received 500 doses of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine in early January and are waiting for more vaccine from the COVAX initiative, which is expected to arrive in April.

The country expects at least 20 per cent of the population to be vaccinated this year and 50 per cent of the population by the end of 2022. Their priority groups after frontline medical workers are border and immigration officials, and elderly people living in the border areas.

Malaysia: Population – 32.5 million   

The country has reported 141,533 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 110,584 people have recovered from the infection with a death toll of 559.

Malaysia has ordered 25 million doses the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which would be enough to inoculate 39 per cent of its population, its health ministry said this week.

Apart from Pfizer, the country is also securing 6.4 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and another 6.4 million jabs from the COVAX initiative.

The total of 37.8 million jabs being ordered would be able to inoculate at least 60 per cent of its population.

The first batch of one million Pfizer jabs is expected to be made available for the general public around end of February, its health ministry said. They are looking to provide the vaccine to health care workers and security officers first.

Apart from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and COVAX, the country is also looking to secure vaccines from China and Russia. They signed a deal Sinovac on Tuesday. The country is setting aside at least US$741 million to buy vaccines from various providers, they added. 

Myanmar: Population – 54.6 million

The country has reported 131,737 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 115,061 people have recovered from the infection with a death toll of 2,878.

Myanmar said last month that they are asking the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency for US$1 billion to buy vaccines.

The country is now waiting for vaccines from COVAX which they expect to arrive in April. Its health ministry plan to inoculate at least 40 per cent of the population with vaccines from the WHO’s initiative by the end of next year.

The ministry also said last month that they are looking to purchase Covovax vaccine from the Serum Institute of India and producing it themselves with the know-how from Indian pharmaceutical firms.

They then said this month that the country is planning to first inoculate their health workers with vaccines from India and China in February. The country’s ministry finance is also setting up a vaccination fund worth $250 million to secure more vaccines.

Philippines: Population – 110 million

The country has reported 491,258 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 458,172 people have recovered from the infection with a death toll of 9,554.

The Philippines is planning to inoculate two-thirds of its population or at least 70 million people in 2020. In the first phase, the government is planning to inoculate 50,000 people with the Sinovac vaccine in February.

More of the Chinese-made vaccine is expected to arrive in March and December and the country’s food and drug agency is considering the approval of other vaccines, namely Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Russia’s Gamaleya.

The country has ordered 25 million vaccine doses from China’s Sinovac, 30 million doses of Covovax from Serum Institute of India, 30 million doses of AstraZeneca, 20 million doses of Moderna and 25 million doses of Russia’s Gamaleya or Sputnik V vaccine.

They are also expecting to receive another 40 million doses from COVAX within the first quarter of 2020.

Singapore: Population – 5.8 million

The country has reported 58,946 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 58,694 people have recovered from the infection with a death toll of 29.

Singapore started to inoculate its frontline health care workers at the start of the year. They are planning to vaccinate their elderly population next.

The government is planning to provide free vaccines to all of its citizens and long-term residents. The country is securing vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and it was the first Asian country to receive the Pfizer vaccine in December.

Vietnam: Population – 97.8 million

The country has reported 1,520 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. As of Wednesday, 1,361 people have recovered from the infection with a death toll of 35.

Vietnam had ordered 30 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine and they are looking to secure more vaccines from other sources in China, Russia and the United States, including Pfizer.

They are also waiting for vaccines from COVAX Facility and have started trails of its homemade vaccine, Nanocovax, since December. There are four Covid-19 vaccines being developed in the country.

The first phase of Nanocovax’s human trials are expected to be completed in February and the vaccine is being developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. The final phase is expected to be done in February 2022.

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