VIENTIANE, U.S. Embassy in Laos –
Lao PDR received a new shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Jan. 2, which is a donation by the United States through the COVAX Facility - a partnership co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as a key delivery partner. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has been reviewed for safety and efficacy by WHO and is the first COVID-19 vaccine recommended by WHO for use in individuals age 12 and above. These vaccines will protect lives in Lao PDR and help prevent dangerous new variants from spreading.
This latest shipment consists of 799,110 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and is the first of two shipments planned for delivery to Lao PDR. The combined total of both shipments is 1,698,840 doses. The second shipment of 899,730 doses is set to arrive in mid-January. This donation builds on the one million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines the United States donated to Lao PDR in July 2021.
The shipment was received by H.E. Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, at the Wattay International Airport, who was joined by Ms. Joy Michiko Sakurai, U.S. Charge d’affaires to Lao PDR, Mr. Cullen Hughes, acting Country Representative for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Ms. Leotes Helin, UNICEF Representative a.i. to Lao PDR, and Dr. Yu Lee Park, WHO Officer-in-charge to Lao PDR.
A formal handover ceremony for the two shipments between the Government of Lao PDR and the United States will be organized in early 2022 once the second shipment has been delivered.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccines provided by the United States will be provided to priority groups as per the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan. These include adolescents age 12 to 17 years as well as other priority groups including people 60 years and above, people with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women.
This contribution from the United States will support Lao PDR’s efforts towards its goal of vaccinating 80 percent of its population by the end of 2022 and will contribute to the COVAX Facility’s mission of ensuring global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. In addition, the United States, through USAID, UNICEF, and WHO, is strengthening Lao PDR’s capacity to safely and effectively distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The United States has also worked closely with Lao PDR since the pandemic began to expand COVID-19 testing, keep health workers safe with personal protective equipment, and strengthen disease surveillance.