Cambodia and India are in the process of negotiating a deal for 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The vaccines were reserved for Cambodia after the Cambodian government requested one million vaccines from India, Indian Ambassador to Cambodia Dr Devyani Uttam Khobragade said.
Khmer Times initially reported that the vaccines would be donated, but Ambassador Khobragade on Wednesday clarified that a contract for the vaccines would be negotiated.
The Indian Ambassador told Khmer Times: “Despite our enormous commitment, GOI (Government of India) has approved 100,000 vaccines for Cambodia on a contract basis to be purchased from the Serum Institute of India.”
She said there are no updates on when the vaccine will arrive because negotiations and formalities still need to be carried out.
“The Indian Government has to issue the export clearance in each case as the supply is extremely limited and there are commitments to cater to our national vaccination drive,” she said.
“Both governments are in touch and are discussing the necessary regulatory clearances, registration and other formalities such as contracts. It is therefore difficult to anticipate a date right now as discussions are in early stages.”
The Indian Embassy said that the decision is a testament to India’s appreciation for Cambodia as an important partner and its concern for the health and prosperity of the people of Cambodia.
The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by SII was granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) status by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, after the Ministry of Health approved it for emergency use on February 12.
India is the largest provider of vaccines in the world and according to a CNBC report, consulting firm Deloitte predicted it will be the second-largest provider of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, behind the United States. A partner at Deloitte India, PS Easwaran, said India may produce more than 3.5 billion vaccines in 2021, compared to around 4 billion made in the US.
India’s vaccination programme began on January 16 and so far about 8.4 million people have been inoculated with the first dose of either the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine or the domestically produced COVAXIN vaccine.
From January 20 onwards, New Delhi has supplied coronavirus vaccines to several countries including Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Bahrain, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
The only countries with higher vaccination rates are the US (about 55.2 million), China (about 40.5 million), and the United Kingdom (about 16.2 million).
As of Wednesday, more than 13,000 people have been immunised with the Sinopharm vaccine in Cambodia. Approximately 10,045 of those vaccinated were members of various security forces – including the armed forces, military police and National Police personnel.
The AstraZeneca vaccine should be arriving in Cambodia soon, with the COVAX facility set to distribute 1.3 million doses within the first half of this year, along with the 100,000 doses which have been secured by the Indian government.