At the 54th Asean Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN leaders decided to use a common fund to procure 10 million doses of vaccines under the COVAX program.
The Joint Communique stated that the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund, which has now reached US$20.8 million, part of which would be used to purchase vaccines for the people of ASEAN and staffers of the ASEAN Secretariat.
According to an informed source, the leaders agreed to spend US$10.5 million for the vaccines under COVAX, which distributes vaccines to developing countries through the World Health Organization. It is estimated that each member of Asean would receive approximately one million doses under the program.
The ASEAN Secretariat will sign a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Children’s Fund which will purchase the vaccines on the ASEAN’s behalf. The source said the vaccines would be available in the last quarter of this year.
The communique stated that the vaccine is aiming to help ensure that the people of ASEAN are vaccinated, as “no one is safe until everyone is safe.” At the moment, the majority of the 654-million people community has yet to receive shots. Each ASEAN member has intensified the vaccination campaign for its own people since April. The COVAX program will be the first collective effort to procure vaccines.
In order to enhance regional resilience in response to medical emergencies, the new ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies will be the main body to store all contributions from ASEAN members, dialogue partners, and international organizations.
As part of the longstanding efforts to promote public health security in the region, the Asian leaders urged all members to enhance collaboration and sharing of experience in all dimensions including research, development, production, and distribution of vaccines.
From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, ASEAN has made clear vaccines must be made available to all and affordable to all as global public goods and prepare for other future public health emergencies.
In addition to strengthening the bloc as a center of excellence and regional resources hub establishment, the ASEAN leaders are pushing for the early operationalization of the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases. Both Japan and Australia have contributed funds to establish the center.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)