Laos declares Covid-19 vaccinations safe, more to be inoculated next week

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): The next target group of frontline medical staff is scheduled to be vaccinated against Covid-19 next week after more than 100 people vaccinated earlier showed no side effects.

The vaccine, which was first administered in late November, produced good results, Deputy Minister of Health, Associate Prof Dr Phouthone Muongpak, told a press conference on Tuesday (Jan 5).

People need two doses of the vaccine to develop immunity to Covid-19.

The first group of frontline officials including medical staff had their first vaccination in late November and the second on Dec 22.

“There were no side effects or problematic symptoms, ” said Dr Phouthone, who is Deputy Head of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control.

The vaccination programme was launched after China provided 2,000 doses of vaccine developed by Sinopharm (China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd.).

Russia has also provided 500 doses of Sputnik V, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute. The vaccine arrived in Laos on Jan 2.

“We are preparing the next target group and will vaccinate them next week, ” Dr Phouthone said.

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, Minister of Health Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong said last week.

The vaccines funded by the Covax Facility are expected to be administered in April.

It is expected that about 20 per cent of the Lao population, or about 1.6 million people, will be vaccinated this year, Dr Phouthone said.

Priority groups in line for vaccinations are medical staff, officials working at land border crossings and airports, and elderly people living in at-risk communities such as border areas where there have been reports of illegal migration.

Vaccination coverage is expected to rise further to 50 percent of the population by 2022, with more people to be vaccinated in the following years, Dr Phouthone said.

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 in Laos, according to Dr Bounkong.

The Chinese and Russian vaccines provided to Laos are among 10 Covid-19 vaccines listed in the Emergency Use Listing procedure of the World Health Organization (WHO), he added.

So far, no Covid-19 vaccine has been officially certified for safety or effectiveness by the WHO.

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