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Frontline medical staff vaccinated, more Covid-19 vaccines expected

Some frontline medical workers have been vaccinated against Covid-19 thanks to China’s provision of 2,000 doses of vaccine, the Minister of Health has said.
 The first round of vaccinations has been administered to volunteer medical staff, according to Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong.
 “The vaccinations produced good results and no adverse side effects have been reported so far,” Dr Bounkong said in a press statement issued on December 31.
The vaccine has been developed by China’s Sinopharm and is among 10 Covid-19 vaccines listed in the Emergency Use Listing (EUL) procedure of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
So far, no Covid-19 vaccine has been officially certified for its safety and effectiveness by the WHO.
 The Emergency Use Listing procedure has been drawn up by the WHO to expedite the availability of vaccines to people affected by a public health emergency, according to Dr Bounkong, who is Deputy Head of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control.
 The vaccines listed in the EUL do not cause any serious side effects and about 95 percent of people vaccinated have developed antibodies that suppress the virus. People given the Sinopharm vaccine need two injections.
The vaccine provides immunity against Covid-19 for a period of three years and can be stored at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius, the minister said.  “China has vaccinated millions of its citizens with good results,” Dr Bounkong said.
 Another 500 doses of Sputnik V, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, arrived in Laos on January 2. This vaccine is also included in the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing.
 “We are getting ready to administer the Sputnik V vaccine and preparing freezers to store it,” the minister said in the statement, adding that the Russian vaccine must be stored at -18 to -20 degrees Celsius.
People given the Sputnik vaccine also need two doses and will develop immunity to Covid-19 for two years.
 Laos also expects to receive Covid-19 vaccines from the Gavi COVAX Facility – an initiative working to ensure global equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Vaccines funded by the COVAX Facility are expected to be administered in April when about 1.4 million people representing 20 percent of the population will be vaccinated. 
Dr Bounkong said Laos is one of 92 countries that will be given vaccines in the form of a grant from the Gavi COVAX Facility.
People in at-risk groups will be given priority in receiving vaccinations. They include frontline workers such as medical staff including nurses and volunteers, elderly people, those with a chronic illness, and migrant workers.
In addition to the vaccines provided by other governments and the COVAX Facility, the Lao government has allocated a budget for the purchase of more vaccines, to be supplemented by financial assistance from donors. The ultimate aim is for the whole population to be vaccinated and re-vaccinated every two or three years.
It is estimated that it will cost almost US$18 to immunise just one person, meaning that almost US$100 million is required to vaccinate everyone, according to the minister, citing an estimation made jointly by the Ministry of Health, the World Bank, WHO and Unicef.


 


BySouksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update
January 4,
2021)


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