VIENTIANE, U.S. Embassy in Laos -- Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) received a new shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine via direct donation by the United States through the COVAX Facility. COVAX is 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.
This new shipment consists of 899,730 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and is the second of two total donations from the US to Lao PDR this month. The first shipment of 799,110 doses arrived in Lao PDR on January, 2 2022. The combined total of both shipments this year is 1,698,840 doses.
The shipment was received by H.E. Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, at the Wattay International Airport, who was joined by Dr. Peter M. Haymond, U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR, Mr. Michael Ronning, Country Representative for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Ms. Beate Dastel, UNICEF Representative a.i. to Lao PDR, and Dr. Yu Lee Park, WHO Officer-in-charge to Lao PDR.
A formal handover ceremony for both shipments of Pfizer BioNTech vaccines between the Government of Lao PDR and the United States is scheduled for 26 January 2022 at the Ministry of Health.
The donation builds upon the one million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines the United States previously donated to Lao PDR in July 2021 and will help to protect lives in Lao PDR while preventing dangerous new variants from spreading.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccines provided by the United States will be administered to priority groups in line with the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan. These include adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, as well as other priority groups, including people 60 years and above, people with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was reviewed for safety and efficacy by WHO and is the first COVID-19 vaccine recommended by WHO for use in individuals aged 12 and above.
This contribution from the United States will support Lao PDR’s efforts to vaccinate 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. To date, the United States has provided over $13 million of support to Lao PDR since the pandemic began to expand COVID-19 testing, keep health workers safe with personal protective equipment, and strengthen disease surveillance.