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Australia commits additional $363mn to COVID-19 vaccine access in Pacific, SE Asia, including Vietnam

Australia commits additional $363mn to COVID-19 vaccine access in Pacific, SE Asia, including Vietnam

Saturday, November 07, 2020, 21:32 GMT+7
Australia commits additional $363mn to COVID-19 vaccine access in Pacific, SE Asia, including Vietnam
Small toy figures are seen in front of a COVID-19 Vaccine logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020. Photo: Reuters

Australia will supply an additional AU$500 million (US$363 million) to support access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the Pacific and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, in the next three years.

This is “part of a shared recovery for our region from the pandemic,” the Australian Embassy in Hanoi said in a statement on Friday.

Australia is securing access to COVID-19 vaccines for itself, the Pacific, and Southeast Asia through a range of advance purchase agreements with manufacturers and through participation in the multilateral COVAX Facility.

The Facility is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Australia is pleased to include Vietnam in this initiative, which builds on its highly successful efforts in containing the spread of COVID-19 and pivotal role in spearheading ASEAN’s response to the pandemic,” the Australian Embassy’s statement reads.

“Through a regional vaccine access and health security initiative, the Australian government will provide a range of support including supplying safe and effective vaccine doses and delivering technical support to our regional partners.”

Australia will assist with assessment of vaccine safety, efficacy, and quality by national regulatory authorities, informed by WHO advice.

The additional AU$500 million will be disbursed over three years toward this effort on top of the AU$23.2 million (US$13 million) already committed by Australia to this initiative.

The funding will make a significant contribution toward meeting the needs of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“Ensuring countries in our region can quickly recover from the health and economic impacts of this devastating global pandemic is vital to ensuring our shared economic future in the post-pandemic world,” the statement said.

“A fast, safe vaccine rollout in the Pacific and Southeast Asia will mean we are able to return to more normal travel, tourism, and trade with our key partners in the region.”

This initiative is in addition to Australia’s ongoing international development assistance budget.

The funding complements Australia’s support for global efforts to help the whole region access vaccines, including through the COVAX Facility and its Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for developing countries.

Australia has already committed AU$123.2 million (US$85 million) to the COVAX Facility to secure access to vaccines for Australians and help bring down prices for all countries, and has contributed AU$80 million (US$58 million) to the Facility’s AMC for the benefit of high-risk populations in developing countries.

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